Traveling Broadway road shows may have bigger casts, more elaborate costumes, spectacular sets, and technical aspects fit for large venues, but as for talent, performances, and heart, any and all traveling shows would be hard pressed to match The Jewish Community Center’s current production of “Annie.”
Many clips can be found of more famous names playing Agatha Hannigan, but none stand out more than Franci Talamantez-Witte’s rendition of the “love her/hate her” comedic performance of Miss Hannigan at The J. Backed up by the most likeable Daddy Warbucks, Ron Meyers, “Annie” delivers a sense of hope and prosperity in the depth of The Great Depression and reminds viewers that even after a disastrous 2020, “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow.”
How could a production fail with strong leads, strong comedic supporting characters, adorable children, and a musical score that delivers hope with every song? Add to that the direction and choreography of Jerry Jay Cranford and the musical direction of Jeremy Watson. All the elements add up to a super-charged performance that can be viewed live or streamed to your home screen.
Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbucks create strong performances for two charming younger performers to play “Annie.” Miss Hannigan plays the funny villainess to Warbucks more stodgy millionaire. But, leave it to the two younger actresses who play Annie to provide a seamless transition to their roles on stage. Expect strong vocal performances by all four characters.
As the comedy tandem, Joell Ramsdell and Lauren Taylor make a delicious display as Rooster and Lily. They are especially charming when they team with Miss Hannigan for “Easy Street.”
An amazing aspect of the score remains in that “Annie” does not contain any weak musical numbers. All pieces fit well into the show, are delivered with flash, and all give a sense of hope in dire conditions. The entire score provides enjoyment.
Bravo, cast! Annie, Ailia Ford & Riglee Bryson; Oliver Warbucks, Ron Meyer; Miss Hannigan, Franci Talamantez-Witte; Grace Farrell, Tracy Fox; Rooster Hannigan, Joell Ramsdell; Lily St. Regis, Lauren Taylor; Sandy, Buck; Molly, Quinn Kamphaus; Tessie’ Harper Wright; Kate, Stella Davidson; July, Hartley Graham; Pepper, Louisa Bartlett; Duffy, Tessa Brethowr.
The Male Ensemble is: FDR/Lt. Ward/Jimmy Johnson- Christian Owen; Judge Brandice/Ickes/NYC/Hooverville/Servant- Brandon Barksdale; Catcher/Drake/Bert Healy/Hooverville/NYC- Connor Bush; Sound Engineer/Morgenthau/ Hooverville/ Servant/ NYC- Alex Gumminger.
Female Ensemble: Mrs. Pugh/Hooverville/NYC- Natalee Merola; Cecille/Boylan/Perkins/Hooverville/NYC- Daphany Edwards;
Mrs.Greer/Annette/Boylan/Hull/Hooverville/NYC/Grace & Lily; Understudy- Abigail Bec Star to Be/Hooverville/Servant/Hannigan Understudy- Jessica Alcorn; Boylan/Dance Captain/Hooverville/NYC/Servant- Amanda Dulny; NYC Girl Brooklyn Birnbaum; NYC Girl, Logan Nicholls.
The Creative team who make the magic appear onstage is: Director, Jerry Jay Cranford; Music Director, Jeremy Watson, Scenic Design, Jeremy Smith; Lighting Design, Justin Dudzik; Costume Design, Justin Gannaway; Properties Design, Jeremy Smith; Sound Design, Jonathan Robertson, Stage Manager Megan Segars; Assistant Stage Manager, Betsy Wendorff; Wardrobe Manager Erin Ray; Master Carpenter, Tanner Kelley, Scenic Charge, Bethany Elliott; Carpenters, Seth Holt & Kelsi Richardson; Run Crew, Jack Green, Tanner Kelley, & Keiran Ford; Lighting Crew, Maddie Lugenbeel Wright & Kelso Richardson; A1/Sound Mixer, Eric Lugenbeel;.A2/Audio Assistant, Sam Michaels; Spor Operators, Nicholas Todd & Chris Greenfield.