Annie: A complete delight

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Annie

Taken from the Harold Gray comic strip character “Little Orphan Annie,” the story takes place in the 1930s during the depression with “its centerpiece, Annie displaying her optimism and heart under dire circumstances. With some memorable music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, the show is easy to listen to and enjoy.
With an upbeat cast and a great orchestra under the baton of musical director Keith Levenson, Tony award winning “Annie,” with a great Sandy, her beloved mutt, in tow, rolled into town. This is a feel good musical with fun, energy, colorful sets and the best Sandy ever.
Director Martin Charnin moves the spectacle at a brisk pace. His direction is tight and crisp and there are no wasted movements or moments. Nine-year-old Issie Swickle belts out Annie’s songs with the confidence of a thoroughbred at a fast trot. She is endearing and, playing a part that has been done by dozens of Annies, takes the role over as her own and makes the gutsy little comic strip character believable.
All the kids who play the orphans are solid and talented, as is shown in their “Hard Knock Life” number. They handle their individual roles and bits of shtick with just enough underplay to make it funnier than if overdone. (Angelina Carballo and Adia Dant play Annie at select performances.)
The littlest orphan, Molly, played by Lilly Mae Stewart, is a real scene-stealer and her timing and delivery is on the money. As they say in the business, she has “it.”
Sandy is played by a 4-year-old rescue mutt named Macy, and he is one of the best Sandys yet. It’s not that he does much but as they say, “it’s not what you do it’s how you do it”- even if it’s just giving the audience that just right hang dog look or stretching at the right time or hitting his mark on cue. (Macy also has an understudy named Sunny who has large paws to fill.)
One of the best Miss Hannigans ever, Lynn Andrews, plays the befuddled, nefarious orphanage overseer while carrying on with amazing over the top vigor and a great voice.
Gilgamesh Taggett, as Oliver Warbucks, puts an acceptable spin on the brusque, kindhearted millionaire. His dance numbers with Annie are delightful and charming
Garrett Deagon as the repulsive Rooster and Lucy Werner as his cohort Lily St. Regis ooze just enough nasty to get the kids in the audience almost booing.
Ashley Eyedler plays the sweet, sensitive Grace, Oliver Warbuck’s secretary, without becoming a caricature
“Annie” is just plain delightful fun, a great show for the entire family. You will find it hard to stop humming “Tomorrow” for a few days after the lights have dimmed.
Camille Bounds is the arts and entertainment columnist for New SV Media newspapers.                                                                                                        
“Annie” runs through June 14.
Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor St., San Francisco
Two hours and 45 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.
Tickets are $40 -$60.
Call (800) 746-1699 or go to www.shnsf.com.
                                                                                                          

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