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Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin, and Book by Thomas Meehan

Rockwall Summer Musicals

Director - Barbara Doudt
Choreographer – Suzanne Toler
Music Director – Chris Widomski
Asst. Director/Stage Manager – Danny Oursbourn
Set Designer – Phyllis Johnson
Associate Music Director – Melissa Williams
Asst. Stage Manager – Rebekah Johnson
Master Carpenter – Josh Hensley & David Johnson
Costume Designer – Mary Nichols
Producer – Dana Ward
Lighting Design – Kyle Strickland
Sound Design – Pip Bickford
Props – Palmer Ragsdale
Set Artists – Paige Megyesi, Tabitha Megyesi, Tonya Megyesi, & Susan Underhill
Produced by – Irwin Meyer, Stephen R. Friedman, Lewis Allen, Alvin Nederlander Associates Inc., The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, & Icarus Productions

Molly – Ayla Sensoy
Pepper – Eliza Lane
Duffy – Deya Williams
July – Ava Ripp
Tessie – Emma Kate Woodliff
Kate – Kailey Lanford
Alice – Annie Cox
Ruby – Evangeline Smith
Louise – Harper Morgan
Annie – Sutton Moss
Miss Hannigan – Ashley Reeves
Bundles McCloskey – Tyler Richardson
Sandy – Charli
Dog Catcher – Jack McClenney
Asst. Dog Catcher – Joseph Arce
Apple Seller – Garrett Gonyaw
Lt. Ward – Michael Christian
Eddie – Joseph Arce
Sophie, the Kettle – Kimberly McClenney
Fred – Charles Barry
Grace Farrell – Catherine Hinkley
Drake – Tyler Richardson
Mrs. Pugh – Jessica Ratterree
Mrs. Greer – Laura Michaels
Cecille – Jodi Chaffin
Annette – Bianca Bustamante
Oliver Warbucks – James Williams
Daniel “Rooster” Hannigan – Dennis H. Gullion
Lily St. Regis – Molly Pope
Bert Healy – Kurtis Williams
A Star to Be – Tori St. John-Gilbert
Santa – Rodney Jaynes
Fred McCracken – Vance Wittie
Sound Effects Man – Joseph Arce
Jimmy Johnson – Garrett Gonyaw
Bonnie Boylan – Tori St. John-Gilbert
Connie Boylan – Laura Michaels
Ronnie Boylan – Jessica Ratterree
Franklin D. Roosevelt – Greg Duncan
Harold Ickes – Charles Barry
Louis Howe – Bob Lewis
Henry Morgenthau Jr. – Vance Wittie
Cordell Hull – Kurtis Williams
Frances Perkins – Annie Gray Morales
Justice Louis Brandeis – Vance Wittie
Hooverville-ites, Warbucks’ Servants, and New Yorkers – Joseph Arce, Charles Barry, Bianca Bustamante, Jodi Chaffin, Michael Christian, Garrett Gonyaw, Maddy Grimes, Bob Lewis, Jack McClenney, Kimberly McClenney, Annie Gray Morales, Efren Paredes, Tyler Richardson, Jennifer Steele, Tori St. John-Gilbert, Debbie Weigant, Burkly Wheeler, Blaire Willess, & Kurtis Williams
Kallenborn/Radio Voice – Josh Hensley

Musical Director/Conductor – Chris Widomski
Associate Music Director/Piano – Melissa Williams
Woodwinds – Chris Beaty, Jacob Harris, Nathan Ascano, Christopher Bronson, Paul Fullington, and Sharon Fullington
Trumpets – Scott Benners & Roy Garner
Trombone – Nathaniel Geiger
Violin – Sean Burrows
Cello – Shari Allison
Keyboard – Steven

Reviewed Performance: 8/9/2019

Reviewed by Jazmin Wilson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Based on Harold Gray’s famous comic strip by the name of Little Orphan Annie, this musical is a classic that absolutely no audience member, regardless of age, can ignore. Annie is a musical ultimately about optimism, spunk, family, and holding onto hope for a better tomorrow, no matter how bleak today may seem. With a brilliant cast of not only adults, but children and animals as well, Rockwall Summer Musicals presented Annie with the perfect concoction of silliness, sorrow, and hope. Annie, since its official Broadway debut in 1977, has brought smiles, laughter, and love to families everywhere, and such was true of this show as well. Not to mention, there was a dog in it. I’m a sucker for real animals in shows. However, I digress.

Annie, portrayed by the adorable and incredibly talented Sutton Moss, had me smiling and giggling nonstop throughout the night. I had a bit of a difficult time really believing her sadness at some points in regard to her status as an orphan and her alleged missing parents, but this was easily remedied in times when the role demanded spunk, fire, and attitude, because Moss absolutely nailed these elements. The emotional execution of Annie’s doubt and disappointment became increasingly more believable by the end of the performance, and luckily the execution of these low points were only accentuated by Moss’s charming and humorous portrayal by the night’s end. Not to mention, this kid had an incredible voice. Watching her effortlessly belt the highest notes in her solo songs had me staring, open mouthed and in absolute awe. It was clear to see that she had been professionally trained and trained well, at that, as her solo singing lines were nearly always flawless and rang like a bell.

In addition to Annie herself, you can’t really go talking about the performance without talking about the orphans. Although their lines were at times inaudible due to how quickly they were delivered, the group performed exceedingly well as a young ensemble of rascals. Every scene they occupied was full of such a pure and genuine kind of childhood joy that you just can’t really fake. Every appearance on stage from this group of gals had me smiling from ear to ear, with their simple yet visually appealing choreography, high little voices, and snarky little jokes. The absolute warmth that this group brought to the show was irreplaceable and very fun to see.

If there was anyone in the entire show that stood out, it would have to be Miss Hannigan. Ashley Reeves brings the usual portrayal of Hannigan to the table, wobbling around like a crazed, drunken lunatic all while doing everything in her power to ensure the misery of a group of children, but somehow there is an element of her characterization that is fresh. She is tired and incredibly miserable herself, and Reeves does more than enough to portray this even in the way that she moves on stage. In addition to her near flawless execution of this character, I would even go as far as to say that Reeves had my favorite voice in the adult cast. “Little Girls” is my favorite song of the entire musical, so to see Reeves so effortlessly belt it out like it was the last and most desperate thing she would ever sing was nothing short of a pleasure to watch. Reeves is not alone in her outstanding contribution to the show, however, as her sidekicks provided just the right amount of contrast to Hannigan’s irritable character. Dennis H. Gullion and Molly Pope portraying the roles of Rooster and Lily St. Regis are a dynamic couple, easily feeding off each other’s sleazy energies just enough to annoy the living snot out of Hannigan. Their dynamic as a trio is hilarious, and while their performance of “Easy Street” has some chorographical slip ups, it is easily forgivable due to the sheer hilarity of these three buffoons dancing together in the first place.

There is no better emotional arc in the show than that of Mr. Oliver Warbucks. With just the right amount of stiffness in his character, James Williams brings the lovable millionaire- no- billionaire- to life. From his first appearance in the show, Williams is cold, short, and all business. By the end, he is entirely wrapped around Annie’s finger, and the budding chemistry between the pair throughout the show is enjoyable and believable. Williams brought a fascinating voice to the character as well, delivering his solo singing lines with a lovely, matured vibrato. Though not necessarily a radical and different version of the character, Williams delivers a clever, boisterous version of Warbucks that we all know, love, and also wish to be adopted by.

Amongst all the greatness that this show delivered, there were a few things to say regarding minor elements of the performance. Due to the amount of talent held within the ensemble, each individual member truly told their own story. Every cast member was animated and lively, which was wonderful at times, but at others, it proved problematic in regards to the overall unity of the ensemble. During group numbers, especially, the over the top characterization from the ensemble members became detrimental to the unity of the performance, and choreography often fell out of sync. This is also due in part to some minor technical difficulties, as well, as ensemble members would sometimes go to deliver a line despite their mic not being on yet or not being equipped with a mic at all, making some lines choppy or inaudible altogether. Musically, there were a few discrepancies as well, as some character mics would remain on during large group numbers, making one voice stick out over the others which also disrupted the balance of the chords.

An element of the production that stood out to me above all was the intricate detail put into designing every aspect of the set and costumes. The scene changes took place seamlessly and without much distraction from the scenes at hand, each room in the story with its own unique furniture and decoration. Every individual costume was different, too, which was exciting to see especially on the Hooverville-ites and orphans, as it is exceedingly easy to just throw mismatched thrift store finds on characters like those. However, the attention to detail within the making of this show truly shined with the costumes, as I noticed the patchwork, differentiation, and individualistic element to all costumes for all actors, even outside of the ones wearing dingy neutrals shades. Hannigan’s office being messy, the oval office being sleek, and the radio show room being eccentric were all easily noticeable to be the work of an incredibly dedicated design team, and the same could be said about the costumes, especially in regards to Annie’s adorable trademark dress.

All in all, Rockwall Summer Musicals’ production of Annie proved a fun filled night for all ages with its humor, plot, and catchy songs, some of which are honestly still stuck in my head even as I write this. Leaving each audience member with a smile and a unique sense of hope, Annie is a family oriented show for all, and will likely continue to be for years to come.