Confessions of a Teenage Theater Geek: "Annie"

I’ll begin this blog with a song by one half of the most flawless power-couple ever.

But this isn’t a blog about my undying worship of Bey and Jay (I could probably fill up twenty straight pages on that). This is about the play from which Jay-Z sampled his hook in that wonderful song: Annie.

Annie is a classic. The movie version has absolutely been viewed at some point in every child’s life. All of those children probably then decided that being an orphan looks like a pretty sweet gig. You’re telling me a billionaire will adopt me for no reason, buy me clothes, and let me live in his mansion? And I get a cute dog?! So long mom and dad! Where do I sign up?

I had seen a commercial for the movie on TV and immediately begged my grandma to call the number on the screen. Within a week, the mailman came with a package, and I wheeled my little pink doll carriage to the mailbox to pick up my very own copy of Annie.

Having watched the movie one too many times, I was intrigued when the revival was announced this year. I didn’t feel the need to rush to see it, but once Jane Lynch took over as the evil orphanage owner Miss Hannigan, I knew I had to catch her as soon as I could.

Brief pause to discuss how much I love Jane Lynch: that woman is beyond hilarious. She is definitely up there on my list of favorite funny women (although no one will ever steal the #1 spot from Tina Fey). Sue Sylvester is obviously the best character on Glee, no contest. And have you seen her in Role Models? Perfection.

Here comes the blow. She was just kind of “meh.” I searched for other adjectives to describe her performance but “meh” seemed to sum it up most appropriately. Annie is really a show that highlights child star power. For instance, I saw an understudy in the role of Annie, and she knocked my socks off! Girl could seriously belt! The littlest orphan, Molly, was a total scene-stealer though. I was crying with laughter as I watched this pint-sized pigtailed girl skip around the stage to “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” while wearing Miss Hannigan’s bra stuffed so full that it practically touched her chin.

gavel1But the adults in this show – I mean… Besides the extremely talented man who played Daddy Warbucks, all of the adults in this cast were surprisingly terrible! Grace had no emotion at all (whether that’s her fault or the fault of such a poorly written character is up for debate). Jane Lynch also gave a pretty lackluster performance as Miss Hannigan. Her singing voice is nowhere near strong enough to hit the powerful belts and she acted the part so melodramatically that it felt way too over the top.

My biggest disappointment came in the form of Rooster and Lily. This mischievous criminal duo is one of my absolute favorite parts of the show, yet both characters were cast horrendously. They totally failed to make me laugh and they sloppily rushed right through my favorite song, “Easy Street.” Although my standards may be too high since nothing can compare to the 1982 version featuring Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, and Tim Curry.

Fear not, fellow Broadway-lovers! My night of “just okay” theatre was redeemed. Sitting only a few rows in front of me were three members of the cast of Saturday Night Live. I’m absolutely obsessed with SNL and immediately recognized them while my mom fumbled with her glasses and took a good minute and a half before realizing who they were. Did I get a picture you ask? Of course I did.

Of course it’s blurry because my mother still can’t figure out an iPhone camera. Love you, Mom.

Of course it’s blurry because my mother still can’t figure out an iPhone camera. Love you, Mom.

Oh and while we’re on the subject of pictures…

jane

Is this real life?

Yeah, that happened. I took a selfie with Jane Lynch. I’m still recovering from the awesomeness of that situation. (Side note: Jane is one of the most gracious and polite people I’ve ever met).

Annie is currently playing at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. Jane Lynch finishes her run as Miss Hannigan on July 14.

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Samantha Costanza