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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

I have to admit, I have seen Annie more than a few times. The perennial favorite musical, which opened this week on the Beef and Boards stage, seems to be a regularly scheduled item at theatres and, in its movie form, on television. It is a wonderful show, in itself – always uplifting, with a familiar “sing-along-in-your-head” type score. I like it, but…I’ve seen it, ya know?

So…what a pleasant surprise to see that Eddie Curry has directed this current local version to be a refreshing and sparkling edition of the show, with first class talent in every role, and a fine doggy performer to boot!

Mr. Curry, accompanied by Ron Morgan as choreographer, has let out the stops and coaxed big performances from even the smallest members of the cast. Some performers do approach cartoonish renderings of their characters – but hey, the show is based on a comic strip – so it all works!

Claire Kauffman takes the role of Annie. The experienced young actress (this is her third time performing in Annie, her second time in the title role) has a marvelous stage presence, and her strong, clear voice pays dividends as the orphan girl hoping to find her parents. Her comfort on stage shows as she handles all the comic and musical aspects with aplomb.

Annie and Daddy Warbucks

Ty Stover (Daddy Warbucks) and Claire Kauffman (Annie) star in Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

Joining Miss Kauffman is local favorite Ty Stover as Daddy Warbucks. This stage veteran is a marvel to watch, and to hear. His confident Warbucks is a reflection of the man himself – and is likely the best I have seen, personally.

Other standouts include Jeff Stockberger as an outrageous Rooster, Deb Wims as his conniving cohort, Lily St. Regis, and Kelly Teal Goyette, hilarious as the troubled Miss Hannigan. John Vessels is delightful as he brings his typical extra something to Warbucks’ butler, Drake; and Bobbi Bates is perfect as Warbucks’ secretary, Grace.

Easy Street

Kelly Teal Goyette (Miss Hannigan), Jeff Stockberger (Rooster) and Deb Wims (Lily St. Regis) in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

One of the highlights of any production of Annie  is the group of young girls who play the orphans. Curry’s corp of Bridget Bingham, Sadie Cohen, Macy Franklin, Kynden Luster, Sylvie Templet, Anna Wagner and Aliva Rose Williams fill the stage with wonderfully lively dance and song, and some sharp comedy as well. They open the show with a bang and are a joy to watch every time they have a scene.

Never Fully Dressed

The orphan girls sing “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” in a scene from Beef and Boards’ production of “Annie”

Kristy Templet (who is the proud mama of orphan Sylvie) expertly leads the B&B orchestra through the familiar score, Jill Kelly Howe’s costume designs are a colorful and bright perfection, and Michael Layton’s scenic design makes exacting use of the B&B facilities.

Chef Odell Ward has tipped the buffet menu toward a kid friendly selection for this B&B family production, and as usual, everyone on the B&B staff does all they can to make a visit to Beef and Boards a real pleasure.

Bottomline: This likely is not the last time I will see a production of Annie, but Mrs K and I agree, this will always be among the best. The strong cast carries the day and Curry’s direction makes for a truly fun show for all family members – we brought a 7 year old along and she was enthralled.

Annie continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through July 15th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

* – Photos by Julie Curry

 

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