‘Annie’ comes to Atlanta

Thu, 01/03/2008 - 5:01pm
By: The Citizen

‘Annie’ comes to Atlanta

The new year will get started right beginning Wednesday when a new production of the beloved musical, “Annie,” takes stage at the Fabulous Fox Theatre for a five day run.

Theater of the Stars, which will celebrate its 56th anniversary this year, is behind this production of “Annie.”

Set in New York City during the Great Depression in December of 1933, Annie is the ultimate Cinderella story. It recounts the adventures of a little girl searching for her lost parents. The musical begins as 11-year-old Annie attempts an escape from the municipal orphanage and the alcoholic clutches of the hilariously mean and scheming Miss Hannigan. During her many exploits, Annie befriends a stray dog named Sandy and crosses the path of some very interesting characters, including billionaire Daddy Warbucks. Ever optimistic, Annie wins the help and hearts of nearly everyone she meets.

Kelsey Smith stars in this production as the irrepressible Annie. This past summer she played the role of Annie at Sacramento Music Circus. She currently portrays Felicity in the “American Girls Revue” in Los Angeles. Smith toured the U.S. and Canada as the lead performer with “Care Bears Live.” On television, she recently played the young Samantha on “Samantha Who?”

Mark Zimmerman will portray the blustery but big-hearted Daddy Warbucks. His Broadway credits include “The Rainmaker,” “On the 20th Century,” “Brigadoon” and “Face Value” and he performed in the first national tours of “Mamma Mia!” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

Ruth Williamson will portray the tipsy and sharp tongued Miss Hannigan. On Broadway she starred in the 2004 revival of “Las Cage Aux Folles,” “Music Man,” “Epic Proportions,” “Little Me,” “Guys & Dolls,” and “Annie.” Her film credits include “Evan Almighty,” “The Producers,” “Legally Blonde II” and “Malcolm X” and she has the recurring role of Mrs. Grubman on the hit television show “Nip/Tuck.”

Other principle roles include Laurent Giroux as Rooster, Crista Moore as Grace, Tuck Milligan as President FDR and Betsy Dilellio as Rooster’s feisty girlfriend, Lily St. Regis.

Lola will star as Sandy, the lovable dog everyone wants to take home. She was discovered by her guardian and trainer, William Berloni, at the Connecticutt Humane Society in 1998. Lola understudied the role of Sandy in the 20th anniversary tour before taking over the part and performing across the country.

An extra “orphan chorus” of more than two dozen talented local youngsters will make this show bigger and better than ever.

At the helm as both director and choreographer is Norb Joerder. He reunited Robert Goulet and “Camelot” for the critically acclaimed revival on Broadway and a record breaking national tour. In New York, he has directed and choreographed revivals of “42nd Street” with Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes, “La Cage Aux Folles” with Gene Barry and Lee Roy Reams, “Gypsy” with Lanie Kazan, “Guys and Dolls” with Vic Damone, “The Music Man” with John Schneider, “Annie Get Your Gun” with Andrea McArdle and “My Fair Lady” with Michael Moriarty.

Annie boasts one of Broadway’s most memorable scores by Charles Strouse with lyrics by Martin Charnin. Songs include “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “N.Y.C.” and the buoyant signature song, “Tomorrow.” The original Broadway production of “Annie” opened on April 21, 1977 and ran for 2,377 performances. It won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score.

The idea for “Annie” came from the original “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip which was created by Harold Gray in 1924. The strip ran in papers nationally until Gray’s death in 1968. Various artists continued the story until the late 1970s, then, in 1979, Leonard Starr began a new comic series simply called “Annie.” It has remained in syndication since that time. The musical is based on a book by Thomas Meehan.

Theater of the Stars will present “Annie” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre January 9-13. Performances are scheduled for Wednesday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. Purchases through Ticketmaster can be made in three ways: at Ticketmaster ticket centers, by calling 404-817-8700 or by ordering online at www.ticketmaster.com. For group ticket sales, call the Fox Theatre group sales office at 404-881-2000. Ticket prices range from $20-59.

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