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“Annie Jr.” Shines as Bright as the Chrysler Building at the Taft Theater

 Review by Mary Kate Groh of “Annie, Jr”: Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati celebrates 100 years with the beloved classic, “Annie Jr.” Written by Thomas Meehan, “Annie Jr.” is the shortened version of the popular Broadway musical, the story of a bright and optimistic orphan girl who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she gets to stay with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Director Eric Byrd does a wonderful job keeping the young audience members on the edge of their seats as they watch the story of Annie unfold.

The show opens at the orphanage with Annie (Diana Hutchinson) trying to calm down Molly who is crying from a nightmare that had woken her up. Annie reads Molly a letter that her parents had written for her when they dropped her off at the orphanage when she was just a baby. The only thing that Annie has to remember her parents by is the letter along with half of a locket. Annie dreams of her parents coming back to get her, but those dreams come to a jolting stop as Ms. Hannigan (Katie Arber) barges into the room and demands that the girls clean their room, despite it being the middle of the night.

Annie’s life suddenly changes when she is brought to stay with billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Jason Glaser) for the holidays. Oliver Warbucks is so taken by Annie, that he wants to adopt her. Annie is overjoyed with the news, however, she still feels like a piece is missing from her life because she longs to know who her parents are. Oliver decides to help Annie find her parents and sets up a $50,000 reward to whomever can prove that they are Annie’s parents. Miss Hannigan, along with her brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily, decide to try and scam Oliver Warbucks and pretend to be Annie’s parents just to get the reward. 

I applaud everyone involved in this production. From the set design, costumes, choreography, acting, and vocals, everything was fantastic. Set designer Mark Halpin created a wonderful set to accommodate the many scene changes from New York City to the orphanage and Oliver Warbucks’ mansion. I was truly impressed with how quickly the scene changes took place. My favorite aspect of the production was the choreography. “It’s A Hard Knock Life” left me awestruck with the timing and the young girls dancing en pointe.

More information on “Annie Jr.” can be found at https://thechildrenstheatre.com/shows/annie-jr/. The heartwarming story of little orphan Annie is running at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati from Friday, March 6 to Sunday, March 8. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased online at https://www.ticketmaster.com/annie-jr-the-childrens-theatre-of-cincinnati-tickets/artist/2665107?_ga=2.159697592.428727757.1583196642-349685423.1583196642 Review