Annie, the musical: A KidsOutAndAbout review and resource
Annie, the musical: A KidsOutAndAbout resource and review
by Kathleen McCormack
The story of the little orphan Annie is having a comeback due to a recent trend in creating live action movies based on popular musicals (Into the Woods, Cinderella). In 2014, Columbia Pictures released a re-imagined, modern day version of Annie starring Jamie Foxx and the magnetic Quvenzhané Wallis. If you saw it over the holidays, your kids may be hyped to see the original live.
My guest and I saw the touring production that was at Rochester's Auditorium Theatre on March 10, 2015. Between us, we have six children ages 1 to 15 years. Here’s what each would have loved best about the show:
15-year-old Kaleigh would have loved the historical context.
There were so many opportunities to make connections to lessons in Social Studies. FDR in his wheelchair doing fireside chats, the unemployed gathered in Hoovervilles due to the Great Depression, plans for a New Deal to put the country back to work. There were scores of school-age kids at the show, and you could practically see the light bulbs going off above their heads.
13-year-old Sydney would have loved the young actresses.
Half the cast was under the age of 12, and they were ah-may-zing. If you have aspiring actors in your house, they’ll be astounded to see these kids in professional roles. Effortless – that’s the word that came to mind while watching them. They acted like, well, kids, exactly the way you’d expect disgruntled orphans to act. Not like kids playing a role on stage.
10-year-old Matthew would have loved Ms. Hannigan.
The actress who played Ms. Hannigan was a walking caricature. Big voice, big body, big comedy. Over-the-top in every scene, she flirts with any man who comes near and balances just this side of sanity while “dripping with little girls.” During ensemble scenes, I was leaning around the woman in front of me to make sure I could keep my eye on Ms. Hannigan.
8-year-old Taylor would have loved Sandy the dog.
Macy the dog, who plays Sandy, has an incredible story. Rescued from a shelter in 2009 by a dog trainer, she has now played this starring role over two dozen times on stage. Perfectly trained, Sandy stole every scene in which she appeared.
4-year-old Marne would have loved Annie.
I heart Disney princesses, but here’s a hero you really want your young ones to admire. Annie mothers the other orphans, she teaches Daddy Warbucks that love is more important than money, she befriends the staff in Warbucks’s house, and she never forgets her friends back at the orphanage even when she hits the jackpot. The most memorable scene was a small one in the Hooverville: Annie counters with optimism every complaint the adults express. Sleeping under newspapers? You’ve got something to read before bed. Empty pockets? A place to put your cold hands!
1-year-old Paul should have stayed home with Daddy, just like he did.
A kid-friendly show, yes, but leave the babies at home.
Annie is on stage at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester from through March 15.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Wednesday - 7:30pm
Thursday - 7:30pm
Friday - 8:00pm
Saturday - 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm & 6:30pm
Run Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Theater is entertainment, and I’m all for just having a fun night out with the family. But the teacher in me can’t help wanting to turn every experience into a lesson. Here are some books that go along with the themes of Annie.
Books for older kids
Annie takes place during the Great Depression. “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover” will make much more sense to your kids if they understand some history of the Great Depression, shantytowns, and the New Deal.
Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books we read as kids (a.k.a., the greatest books of all time)? In this book, readers decide if they will join the Bonus Army, ride the rails, or rebuild the nation with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Written in free-verse poems, this is the story of Billie Jo’s struggle to survive during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression.
Books for younger kids
Annie’s best quality is her eternal optimism (“Tomorrow”, “Maybe”). Talk to your kids about resiliency, optimism, and perseverance with these adorable children’s books.
Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack
Rabbit and Mouse are going on a picnic. Every time they face an obstacle, Mouse only sees the negative while Rabbit keeps a positive disposition. Simple language, powerful message.
Cindy Moo by Lori Mortensen
When Cindy Moo hears the classic “Hey Diddle Diddle” rhyme, she becomes determined to jump over the moon. The other cows laugh at her, but despite her many failed attempts, Cindy keeps at it until she succeeds.
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
The Pout-Pout Fish has a constant frown on his face. With his pals at his side, the Pout-Pout fish learns to overcome the “dreary wearies”.
© 2015, KidsOutAndAbout.com
Kathleen McCormack is managing editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com and lives in the Rochester, NY area where the sun only comes out a few months of the year.