Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s production of Annie (playing through Dec. 22) is a G-rated outing with lots of kid actors, perfect holiday fare for the whole family. Just don’t be surprised if your kids start belting out show tunes for days after. Or ask for a dog like Sandy. Sigh.
Premiering on Broadway in 1977, the blockbuster, multiple Tony Award-winning musical starring a plucky red-headed orphan features the songs we all know (and either love, or hate): “Tomorrow,” “Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.”
Aas a community theater, Tacoma Musical Playhouse is not The Great White Way. But don’t be put off by the theater’s drab exterior and rather worn lobby (it’s housed in the old Narrows movie house, built in 1948). Once you’re in your seats, the sets, costumes, songs and live music will transport you to the 1930s Depression and Daddy Warbucks’ gilded mansion; just don’t expect all the glitz of a Broadway show. The theater is relatively small, which means there are really no bad seats.
Based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie (created by Harold Gray in 1924 and running in American newspapers until 2010), the show follows an 11-year-old orphan who just wants to find her parents. She is plucked from the orphanage — run by the child-hating, alcohol-swilling matron Miss Hannigan — to spend Christmas with billionaire impresario Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.
Warbucks pledges to help Annie find her parents, offering a substantial reward and mobilizing his political connections to aid in the search. Meantime, Warbucks falls for the little red-head and plans to adopt her — a plan that’s almost foiled by a scam cooked up by Miss Hannigan and her smooth-talking brother and his girlfriend. In the end, of course, all is well and Annie gets to live happily ever after with her beloved Daddy Warbucks.