Annie Live! Review: An Amazing Night In The Theater

“Annie Live!” hit every note – in as many ways as you can say “every” without making yourself sound nerdy or crass. There are some who think musical theater should be soft and delicate in the top register, and if that’s your thing, then I have some reasonable recommendations to share. My warmup songs, in English and Spanish, can be heard below.

You can’t go wrong with “Duckie, Duckie”…but in this multi-cultural pre-Broadway revival of the classic musical comedy, a 15-year-old from New York’s Little Italy is first abducted to a Welsh village in search of her firecracker mother. It’s the summer of 1946 and nine-year-old Annie Warbucks befriends a poor little working class farm girl named Sandy in the Welsh mining village. An angry Sandy tells her that the heart of the story is that Annie and Sandy are far different from each other, yet I think this same team used “Easter,” “Hurt So Good,” and “People,” even to approach the song “Tomorrow” and especially because of the plaintive recitation of Sandy’s mother’s name in English and Spanish.

This lovely number is re-released in 2014 in a wonderful video, originally posted here.

There were two versions of “Tomorrow,” but I think they both do it right. We’re talking about songs that are closer to scores than standalone numbers here. But the Rockettes did a very decent job with “Here’s to Tomorrow,” which set a masterful tone for the whole evening. “Tomorrow” was certainly enough to get me to leave the theater smiling.

This was an almost perfect night for a musical. There were guest appearances by Matt Goss, Colbie Caillat, Will Rogers, Candice Bergen, Glenn Close, Mr. T, Stephen Curry, Yo Yo Ma, Valerie Simpson, Curt Yinger, and others. Laurie Metcalf, however, is going to have to reach higher (and farther) than she did with the ex-lyricist of “Little Girls.” It’s a beautiful, witty, and achingly simple song about two sisters living their twenties in Chicago. Ms. Metcalf is completely believable as the free-spirited Annie, who thinks she will never be able to have a husband and has just gotten fired from a factory job she hates. But when she sings the words “many millions of men show/every girl a golden ticket,” I believe it was intended to sound like a plea for love and companionship.

The Grand Finale, by the way, which is not a song, has an audience vote to choose it as the show’s title. True, it would be nice to play the final number to the living, in a slightly more enthusiastic manner, but it does have all the songs, bits, dances, and human energy that “Annie Live!” needs to reach a new audience.

Again, there are many fine musicals that can be enjoyed in season. When I know that I am going to see a quality musical before the theater closes, then I buy the tickets. I do recommend what I experienced in New York.

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