Miss Hannigan, Annie’s guardian, says to never tell a lie. So I’m not lying when I say the Columbia Entertainment Company and PACE (Performing Arts in Children’s Education) production of Annie is a must-see.
The first-ever collaborative production between CEC and PACE features a well-rounded cast. From first grade to adult in age and student (including a J-School undergrad) to attorney in occupation, actors from all over the area come together to put on a memorable, adorable and impressive performance. Most of the orphans are played by elementary-aged children with remarkable voices. They’re pretty cute too. Who doesn’t like precious children singing and dancing? (People without souls, that’s who.)
The young voices from PACE, especially that of Elizabeth Swanson, who plays Annie, aren’t the only stunners. CEC actors, mainly playing the adults in the story, contribute equally fantastic vocals and character portrayals. Another unique feature of the production is the set and music. A nine-person orchestra musically narrated the show. Their talent was showcased during set changes by the cast with their innovative and versatile set.
Set in the post-Depression era, "Annie" is anything but that. Song, dance and witty lines bring the tale of a spirited eleven-year-old orphan and her adventures to life. This curly-topped ginger gets herself into a whole slew of situations ranging from chilling with a bunch of hobos to residing in a billionaires mansion. She meets many new faces along the way, all played perfectly by the CEC and PACE cast. Franklin D. Roosevelt even makes repeatedly awkward and laughable appearances. Needless to say, her guardian, the sinister and short-tempered Miss Hannigan, doesn’t approve. I won’t spoil the ending, but the plot twists are enough to hold the attention of the biggest Harry Potter fan.
Going to see "Annie," I had no idea what to expect from a community theater production, especially a musical I had never seen. My previous knowledge of Annie amounted to the songs “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow." I assure even the first-time Broadway musical viewer that this production is worth your time and “bottom dollar."