- Kauffman Center, Kansas City, Missouri
- April 18, 2023
The first professional musical I saw was the first National Tour which came to Kansas City in 1981. Reid Shelton, who had originated the role of Oliver Warbucks on Broadway, was in the cast along with future Tony Award winner Gary Beach, who played Rooster. I had played the album endlessly for years so it was an amazing opportunity to see the show live. 42-years later, the show returned to Kansas City and I made sure I was there!
If you are not aware of the show “Annie” or the song “Tomorrow,” you definitely were not around in the late 1970s. The show took the world by storm, running for an amazing 2,377 shows and was so popular that the name of the Alvin Theater, where the show ran, was temporarily changed to the ANNIE. For those not familiar with the show, it tells the story of Annie, an orphan in depression-era New York City who lives in an orphanage with other parentless children. The place is overseen by Miss Hanigan, a woman who really has no reason to be raising children. When billionaire Oliver Warbucks decides to have an orphan spend Christmas with him, Annie is chosen. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Like any musical, the show is only as good as the people in it, and here “Annie” did not disappoint. From the ragtag orphans to FDR, they did not miss a beat. As someone that knows the score by heart, I was pleased at how the performers made the songs their own, adding an additional pause or small nuance to familiar songs, giving the show a new, but familiar, feel.
Among the standouts – Christopher Swan as Warbucks, Stefanie Londino as Miss Hannigan, Julia Nicole Hunter as Grace Farrell and, of course, Ellie Pulsifer, who plays Annie with a little more street smarts then usual. I also enjoyed the comic performance of Aidan Ziegler-Hansen, who played radio host Bert Healey. At least I hope it was Mr. Ziegler-Hansen. On the cast board it was noted that the role of Bert Healey was being played by a different actor. I didn’t write the name down becuase I expected a little note to be inserted in the Playbill. Unfortunately, non-of the Playbills had one and by the time the show let out the board had been taken down. Mr. Ziegler-Hansen is listed as the understudy for the role so that is who I’m tipping my hat too.
In 1993 I caught an early performance of the short-lived “Annie Warbucks,” a sequel to the original show, with a cast that included Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie in “A Chorus Line.” Though well received, the show never made it to Broadway. Oh well. Maybe Tomorrow…it is only a day away!
I give “Annie” 5 stars out of 5. A fun night at the theater for young and old!
“Annie” runs in Kansas City through April 23rd. For tickets to this or future shows, click HERE.
“Annie” plays kc through. buy tix here.