It’s a funny theatrical oddity that Annie and direct ! was actually the least nervous I have ever felt while sitting down to watch one of those live musicals. If there’s one group of people I trust to ensure consistency, it’s the kids trained in musical theater. So even though this particular production started out with an eerie Brechtian recognition of the Fourth Wall through what looked like an advertisement for Gap Kids, then forced young star Celina Smith to undergo the stress of a rapid change to the national television (speak of a “moment before”), nothing could destabilize this young dumped. Less than 10 minutes later, the elementary students were already doing butterfly jumps across the stage while singing in perfect harmony. It’s hard to think of a better way to say “the theater is back, baby!” Than a pre-teen who bumps her face as she walks a live dog around the stage. The audience couldn’t help but applaud in the middle of the song and neither could I.
Looking back, I can’t believe we have A live Christmas story! and Le Grinch en direct ! before anyone thinks about directing a production of Annie. Not only is it a beloved musical, it’s also a genuine Well also show. Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s sheet music is packed with bangers, not only in the best-known acts of the series, but also in catchy songs like “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”, “Easy Street” and “NYC Between the popularity of the original cast album, the 1982 film starring Carol Burnett, the 1999 The wonderful world of Disney version with Victor Garber and Kathy Bates, and the film 2014 with Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, it is a program that has received the support of several generations. Plus, he’s literally set on Chrisstmas! Jumping lizards, what else do you want?
Better yet, NBC finally listened to the plea I threw out wholesale all review since these live musicals begin: They filmed the show in front of a live audience and let the crowd laugh at the jokes, rather than just clapping like they were at a rock concert. I’m not sure why it took someone eight full years to think about treating theater like theater, but at least NBC made up for that by attracting an audience that was informed enough to make sure Megan Hilty got her own applause from the crowd. ‘Tituss’ addition to Burgess’ ecstatic reception after the duo arrived on stage together as Rooster and Lily St. Regis, respectively. This is exactly how two Broadway legends should to be treated.
Annie and direct ! threw the glove early by pressing “Maybe”, “Life is tough”, and “Tomorrow” before the first commercial break. And the show kept that momentum going throughout its three-hour run. Even the flaws – Harry Connick Jr.’s horribly meaty Daddy Warbucks cap, a few crew members appearing here and there – only added to the overall fun. These live-action musicals should be a little silly, otherwise what would we be tweeting about? Annie and direct ! reminded us that girls can be orphans, billionaires can be good, and Nicole Scherzinger can fan kick during the scat. So while, of course, Smith’s surprisingly raw and naturalistic approach to Annie doesn’t necessarily make sense in the same show where Taraji P. Henson becomes a jerk-off pantomime villain like Miss Hannigan, no matter when the two performances are wonderful. in a cast without a weak link.
Annie and direct ! also benefited greatly from director Lear deBessonet’s simple and uncluttered staging. While some of these live musicals have become prominent with various sonner steps Where concert-style productions, Annie and direct ! mainly takes place as a real show on stage. Jason Sherwood’s elegantly simple ensemble emphasized the performers, especially the dancers, who stole the show in the big ensemble numbers. (You can feel how hungry these performers are to put on a show after the pandemic has put a kibosh on live theater for so long, and Sergio Trujillo’s choreography has served them incredibly well.) Alex Rudzinski’s camera wasn’t always the best at complementing deBessonet’s scene footage, that’s a pretty minor criticism. On the plus side, aside from a few late microphone moments, Annie and direct ! was basically the first of those live-action musicals to finally get the sound mix right, which is a huge win in my book.
It also helps that Annie just looks like a good thematic fit for our current moment. There is something poignant about his light look at the power of optimism in the face of the Great Depression. (Hope you enjoyed this history lesson from Herbert Hoover, kids!) Plus, his celebration of the family found is also lovely. While this is certainly a fun first-time show, I actually found myself surprisingly moved by the sad cover of Connick Jr.’s “Maybe” when Daddy Warbucks thinks he’s going to have to say goodbye to the little orphan Annie. And by the time Annie and Warbucks expressed their love for each other after finding out that her birth parents had passed away years ago, I was crying.
Annie and direct ! does what these live musicals should have done from the start – pick solid sources, broadcast them properly, and embrace the unique format of live theater, rather than trying to turn them into something else. Perfectly paced and anchored by Smith’s revolutionary performances, Annie and direct ! turned out to be a lovely way to spend a Thursday night amid the busy rush of the holiday season and general fear in the world right now. While so many previous live musicals have seemed like fleeting ephemera that I’ll never see again, Annie and direct ! is one that I might be tempted to see again tomorrow.
- Yes, I applauded Annie’s grand entrance in her iconic red dress, and I hope you too.
- Nicole Scherzinger walks an unprecedented line between giving a great musical theater performance and a ridiculous camp musical theater performance, and that is her power.
- Some of the camera work was pretty scattered tonight, but I loved that Steadicam was walking down the steps from “I think I’m going to love it here”.
- I also loved the incredibly colorful period styles of costume designer Emilio Sosa, although I was a bit taken aback by choosing to book the show with kids in modern attire.
- I can’t stress enough how much difference it made to have a live audience laughing and reacting to the show itself! It was especially enjoyable when the crowd cheered for Warbuck’s line: “I’m happy to see Broadway get back on its feet despite the tough times. “
- I would take a New Deal for Christmas! Or a nice billionaire who wants to adopt me.