Theater Review: “Annie” at Paper Mill Playhouse

By Jonathan Spira on 27 November 2017
  • Share

Everyone’s favorite orphan is back. It’s almost as hard to resist staging it as it is to resist seeing it, and the 1977 Tony-award winning megahit is once again at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Led by Tony winner Beth Leavel as a disheveled and inebriated Miss Hannigan and a sonorous Christopher Sieber as Daddy Warbucks, “Annie” opened Sunday night with the talented young Cassidy Pry (alternating with Peyton Ella) as the redheaded moppet.

From the opening scene, set in the New York Municipal Orphanage’s dreary dormitory, to the grandeur of the Warbucks Mansion, the 2017 “Annie” jumps off the 1930s comic strip pages with a merry band of orphans and a dog named Sandy who can’t help but tug at your heart.


Resplendent in sets by Beowulf Boritt that give the show an entirely new look with wonderful period costumes by Susan Benzinger, this “Annie” is filled with buoyant performances and dated if not optimistic whimsy. Erin Mackey is a standout as Warbuck’s secretary and a few small but meaningful deviations from what past “Annie’s” have done make this one particularly refreshing.

If you’ve forgotten the plot, Annie is abandoned in an orphanage at birth and cruelly mistreated by its headmistress, Miss Hannigan. Annie escapes from the orphanage and after she is recaptured is selected by Warbuck’s secretary to be a guest orphan at Christmas time. A nationwide search for her own parents ensues with the assistance of Warbucks, President Roosevelt, J. Edgar Hoover, and Elliot Ness If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, as well as a tear or two in your eye, you haven’t got a heart.

Finally, while you may leave the show unable to get its two well-known anthems, “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” out of your head, it’s really the song “NYC,” paying tribute to the greatest city in the world, that is the most moving. “NYC/What is it about you?/You’re big/You’re loud/You’re tough.”

“Annie” is at the Paper Mill Playhouse through December 31, 2017.


Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, N.J. 07041
Runtime: Two hours and 40 min.

Accura News

Read previous post:
JAL and Aeroflot Announce Partnership

Japan Airlines and Aeroflot said Monday that the two had signed a memorandum of understanding that will lead to various...