“Annie” – Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ November 29, 2010


Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre
Mesa, AZ

A spunky “Annie” production greets holiday theatergoers at Mesa’s Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. While there’s nothing remarkable about the production or cast, the fast-paced staging of the overly coy tale about the comic strip orphan will please those looking for festive holiday entertainment. There’s even a sure fire holiday number, “New Deal for Christmas,” that brings the season to life.

Before proceeding with this “Annie” review, though, a disclaimer is in order. This critic finds “Annie” sickenly saccharine. The zesty spirit that gets Annie out of a miserable New York City orphanage during the Great Depression strains creditability. She falls into the lap of luxury as billionaire Oliver Warbucks falls in love with her. Everything goes well for Annie and even the few modest setbacks help her succeed. The 1977 musical does have a charming Charles Strouse score with some gutsy Martin Charnin lyrics so not all is lost. It’s the gooey Thomas Meehan book that needs more fire and more distinctive characters.

M. Seth Reines’ breezy and bright staging adds a dash of salt to the overly sweet sequences. Dottie Lester-White’s plucky dances add a splash of oomph, nice-looking sets move swiftly, and the costumes have the perfect period look. JR McAlexander’s beat-driven orchestra plays the tunes with spirited gusto.

Unfortunately, the competent acting doesn’t add any sparkle or dash to the production. For the show’s title role, the Broadway Palm double cast the part. Tatum Weight essays Annie with spunky determination but her vocals aren’t flawless. Her “Tomorrow” seems forced. Her pooch, Sandy, is played with lovable charm by a marvelously shaggy dog, Willie Meo.

Sarah Smith’s Miss Hannigan, the orphanage head, lacks the requisite believable mean spirit and she’s strangely aloof from others in the cast. Gary Kimble has the necessary imposing stature as Warbucks but there’s no chemistry with either Annie with whom he’s so smitten that he adopts her or with his secretary, Grace, whom he asks to marry him in the last scene. Considering the endless times and places Kimble’s played the role, you’d think he’d have a hint of sparkle for Annie and some romance for Grace. The cute little tykes, also double cast, are disciplined and well rehearsed.

There’s nothing wrong with Broadway Palm’s holiday “Annie.” It’s a safe family holiday diversion that continues through December 25. For tickets, call the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre box office at 480-325-6700 or go online at www.BroadwayPalmWest.com.

Grade: C