For a gleeful good time,
there's always 'Annie'
Christine Dolen - Miami Herald
As far as risks
go, the holiday show at Actors' Playhouse is
the exact opposite of playing the lottery.
Cute kids and a dog? Check. Big voices? Check.
Terrific songs? Check. Warm 'n' fuzzy Christmas
The show is Annie, the Fort Knox of happy family
musicals, a 1977 Tony Award winner that guarantees
a good time to anyone who invests in a ticket
(unless, of course, you agree with W.C. Fields,
who said, ``Anyone who hates children and animals
can't be all bad.'').
Musicals don't endure for 2,377 performances
on Broadway without being immensely appealing.
And Annie, set during the Depression and based
on Harold Gray's popular Little Orphan Annie
comic strip, has ''heartwarming'' embedded in
Annie, played by Karina Fernandez, puts on a
good face for 'Grace Farrell' played by Colleen
Tueth and 'Daddy Warbucks' played by John Herrera.
Patrick Farrell/herald Staff
Actors' Playhouse has proven, via its own heavyweight
performance at the Carbonell Awards every year, that
you can trust it too, especially when it comes to
staging the big musicals. Artistic director David
Arisco, choreographer Barbara Flaten and the design
team (Mary Lynne Izzo, who created nearly 100 costumes
for the show; M.P. Amico, who created cartoonishly
inspired sets; Ginny Adams, who has lighted it all
beautifully) know how to tackle such large-scale challenges.
And if Arisco's casting is right, the production,
well, just sings.
The Actors' Annie cast is right, quite right.
It features some of South Florida's best musical
theater talent -- Margot Moreland as a curvy, deliciously
over-the-top Miss Hannigan; Terrell Hardcastle as
her song-and-dance con-man brother, Rooster; Irene
Adjan as Rooster's ditsy tootsie Lily; Terry M. Cain
as a jovial Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Christopher
A. Kent as pompous radio personality Bert Healey --
and it has a couple of out-of-town stars in Tony nominee
John Herrera as Oliver Warbucks and Colleen Tueth
as his pretty right-hand woman, Grace.
Obviously, no Annie works without a winsome, big-voiced
Annie, and here Arisco delivers again. Karina Fernández,
a seventh grader in the magnet arts program at South
Miami Middle School, has the voice to belt the big
numbers like Maybe and that anthem to optimism, Tomorrow.
A slender 12-year-old with a radiant face, she moves
and acts very well. She belongs on that stage with
her far more experienced adult co-stars.
The girls playing her fellow ''orphans'' alternate
in two casts of six each. The opening-night bunch
-- Stephanie Diggles, Christina Jones, Sarah Boynton,
Davina Leone, Stephanie Hodos and Karina Padura --
are just as sassily adorable as Miss Hannigan's tormentors
should be, belting out It's the Hard-Knock Life as
they ''scrub'' the orphanage floor.
And Fernández should watch her back: In a
few years, when she's too tall and mature to play
Annie, little diva-in-training Padura (she plays Molly,
the tiniest orphan) will be just right for the title
As Warbucks, the busy billionaire who learns to live
again thanks to Annie, Herrera is most touching when
he acknowledges his character's changes by singing
the tender Something Was Missing. Tueth is an attractive,
appealing Grace, though you never really get that
little quickening of attraction between her and ''Daddy''
But the biggest guilty pleasure treat of Annie is
watching the three ''scoundrels'' at work. Moreland
is a deliciously boozy, blowsy Miss Hannigan, oozing
comic hatred as she belts Little Girls. She, Hardcastle
and Adjan do a knockout job on Easy Street, their
lustful ode to greed. They are wondrously bad, and
in a musical with so much sweetness, that's a good
The Miami Herald
Diciembre - 2003