Widespread unemployment triggers presidential initiatives. Social services are threatened by huge economic downturn. Are these sound bytes from today’s news? No way! It’s the 1930s Depression Era scenario in which “Little Orphan Annie,” originally conceived as a comic strip by Harold Gray, musically triumphs onstage.
Producer/Director/Founder Lawrence F. Bloom has selected more than a baker’s dozen of public and parochial school talent to portray the heart-stealing waifs in Theatre By The Bay’s production of the beloved musical classic “Annie.” The multi-generational cast harmoniously illustrates the lyrics, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
In the title role, eleven-year-old Isabel Robin is an undeniable delight. Her clear, strong voice, sparkling eyes and disarming smile are worthy of any Broadway performer. Her leading voice for the classics “Tomorrow,” “Maybe” and “Hard Knock Life,” among others, keeps the show’s energy soaring.
John Canning, as Oliver Warbucks, provides warm support with his reassuring voice and confident stage presence. Totally tipsy Miss Hannigan, the orphanage matron, is a great vehicle for community theatre veteran Jean Ann Kump. Her vibrant voice, along with extraordinary physical and facial gestures, are always well-executed, no matter how slapstick. No-nonsense executive secretary Grace Farrell is capably played by Tracy Schrier, while sinister Rooster (Eli Koenig) and brassy Lily (Lila Edelkind) are the obligatory scoundrels.
Each young girl portraying an orphan added her own special charisma to the performance. Kudos first to Isabel’s sister Tess Robin (Molly), and Charlie LoMonaco as Sandy, the dog who almost stole the show. Arf! Special mention goes to youngsters Giovanna Antonucci, Lauren Cassidy, Carly Fine, Madison Justiniano, Leora Kaufman, Bianca Koniuk, Rachel Krevens, Sarah Krevans, Alexandra Kytka, Isabella LoMonaco, Elizabetta Malagon, Sarah Meredith and Alexa Terzakos.
Black walled flats, typical of the troupe’s backgrounds, allowed creative costumes (coordinated by Stephanie Cretaro) to stand out as a visual challenge against the uncertainties of the Depression era.
Musical Director Melissa Fleming, Percussionist Adam Forman, Choreographer Jessica McCuiston and Co-Producers Martha Stein and Barbara Koenig deserve applause for their efforts as well. The entire cast, crew, and behind-the-scenes support are too numerous to mention individually but are always appreciated.
This delightful musical tribute to eternal optimism runs weekends through March 27 at Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th Street, Bayside. Call 718- 428-6363 for tix.
March winds can’t diminish upcoming spring offerings. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.