Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

Falls Patio Players, "Annie"

On Friday night the 29th, we drove up to the North Junior High School auditorium in Monomonee Falls, for the Falls Patio Players' production of "Annie," the musical based on the now defunct "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip.

We went particularly because our friend,Lillian Sullivan, was in the chorus, but also because the show is rather special to us, as one of our first dates was to see a travelling production at the Madison Civic Center.

The Falls Patio Players are generally regarded as one of the top community theatre groups in the area, and this production showed why. There was an impressive array of good looking sets, mostly period appropriate costumes, and very good lighting and sound. "Annie" is not a big dancing show, but what dancing there was, was adequate to the purpose. I've always thought that one of the challenges for local groups putting on the show is the scene involving the dog, Sandy, and this showed why--"Riley",in the role of Sandy, slithered out of his collar on stage, but fortunately didn't do anything more awkward than run back and forth, the "back" part being inspired by the pocket full of doggie treats Madeline McNichols was supplied with. Extra props to her for handling the glitch with fair style and not getting rattled!(Frankly, I don't understand why a local director wouldn't just cut this scene. Yes, it can be cute, but doesn't advance the plot and Sandy disappears soon after--.)

The show had an excellent cast. Of course the role of Annie is critical, and 5ht grader Madeline McNichols was excellent. She has a fine voice but is not over-schooled, so she sounds like a "real" girl. She has good stage presence and handled all her scenes very well, although she could use a bit more movement when singing as she tends to stand rather stiffly. That is a minor criticism, however, for a very strong performance. Tom Horrigan filled the other vital role of Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks. Horrigan looked great, and acted and sung very well. Horrigan's voice was a bit lighter than I expected in this role (Warbucks tends to be done with the "booming" voice, especially when speaking) but I was very pleased with Horrigan, who made the billionaire less of a caricature and more of a vulnerable figure whose affection for Annie is quite believable.

Ceri Hartnett was also very entertaining as the gin-soaked harridan Miss Hannigan, and was well-supported by Jeff Anderson as her no-goodnik brother Rooster, and Allison Chicorel as his moll, Lily St. Regis.

There was one unfortunately weak portrayal in the show, and that was David A. Robins in the admittedly difficult role of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Robins' FDR impression was weak at best, and absent much of the time. Given all the money laid out on sets and costumes, couldn't the Players have sprung for a toupee for Robins? The fact that he's partly bald and has the rest of his head near-shaved did not help his projection of character.

The Players presented very good sounding and well-drilled ensemble of children and of adults, and a nice orchestra that did not drown out the singers, all of which added to our considerable enjoyment.

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Tags: musicals, theatre
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