Greeted with Thunderous Acclaim: Further Musings on Annie – July 6, 2013

Cast changes are an inevitable occurrence in long running productions – while there are actors who will remain with one show for long stretches of time (this is often the case with ensemble cast members), most actors will depart from a production (for variety of reasons, though there have been instances when said actor returns to that production, either reprising the role he/she once played or perform in a different role), and the replacement actors will often bring their own sensibilities and interpretations to their roles, with the opportunity to bring a fresh new perspective to the production while at the same time stay true to the intent of the production. Of course, then there’s the “business” side to show business, wherein cast changes are a component of marketing a production to attract potential theatergoers; for that, I do feel that there are two types of such casting: stunt casting, (usually when a big name celebrity best known for their work on television, film and/or radio is cast in a leading role for a short period of time) and star casting (wherein an established theatre actor is cast in a leading role for a short period of time). Both methods of casting are effective on the financial side of things, though sometimes not as successful in their intent; this quite long-winded explanation is a roundabout rationale for my second visit to Annie, still playing at the Palace Theater [my initial thoughts can be found here], which was to see Jane Lynch (best known as “Sue Sylvester” on the television show Glee), who was cast as Miss Hannigan for roughly three months (she is set to leave the production July 14th).

Annie Marquee Jane Lynch

When I arrived in Times Square, there was a long line at TKTS, and there were a good amount of shows listed on the TKTS board, Annie included at 40% off; however, I bypassed TKTS this time (I wasn’t in the mood to wait on the long line in the blistering sunlight – it was a quite a hot and humid day), and made my way to the Palace Theater where, to my delight, there were general rush tickets available for a reasonable price. I’ve already mentioned my thoughts on the production aspects of the show in my previous blog about the show, so I won’t reiterate them here, and the cast was essentially the same as when I last saw the show, save for the fact that understudy Sadie Sink was on as the titular character.

Annie cast list summer 2013

Needless to say Jane Lynch was astounding as Miss Hannigan, who played the role quite differently than Katie Finneran – Ms. Lynch’s approach to the role was not unlike her television alter ego Sue Sylvester, a mean bully of an authority figure with a penchant for blowing a coach’s whistle, and there were some clever references to her television role included throughout the show as well. Her tall stature also provided many humorous moments when interacting with the orphans, especially with Emily Rosenfeld, the smallest (and youngest) orphan Molly. Attention must be paid to the young actress playing the orphans, who all are, in my opinion, Broadway stars in the making should they choose to pursue this in their future. Sadie Sink, who went on as Annie was outstanding, and I’m glad that she will be one of the two girls succeeding Lilla Crawford as the optimistic titular character [the other being Taylor Richardson]. Though I had mentioned it in my earlier blog post, I do feel the need to reiterate the awesomeness that is Anthony Warlow as Oliver Warbucks, who exudes charm and heart in every scene he is in, and genuinely looks like he’s having an utterly marvelous time onstage.

The stage door experience was great as always, and as the performance I attended was a matinee, and there would be another performance later that night, the adult cast did not come out the stage door, though (once again) all the girls did. The stage door area was once again packed with people, mostly young children and their parents, who were all thrilled to see and to praise the girls for their wonderful performances.

As stated previously, I thoroughly enjoyed Annie and its message of optimism during hard times, and would highly recommend seeing the show while Jane Lynch is in the show (though Ms. Lynch will be succeeded by noted Broadway actor Faith Prince, so the odds of my seeing Annie again are high).

Annie playbill signed

More information for the show can be found on their official site: http://www.anniethemusical.com/

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Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile: Annie CD signing at Barnes & Noble – June 18, 2013

Another new cast recording, another CD signing at Barnes & Noble – while I don’t (and sometimes can’t) attend every one of these CD signings, I do make an effort to attend the ones in which I have a vested interest (or even a mild interest), so long as I’m aware of the time and place it is happening beforehand. I actually found out about the CD signing for Annie yesterday, via a post on the show’s Facebook fan page, which does highlight the importance and omniscience of social media in these modern times (or perhaps it just illustrates how much time I spend on Facebook).

Annie CD Signing

Once again, in the spirit of full disclosure, as I had written about my thoughts on Annie, my primary reason for attending the CD signing was to meet Anthony Warlow, of whom I am a great fan, and thought was a fantastic Oliver Warbucks. Of course it was also a great treat to meet the creative team as well as the cast, including newer cast member Jane Lynch, most famous for her role as “Sue Sylvester” on Glee. This CD signing was at a different Barnes & Noble store than the CD signings I previously attended, and the time of this signing was also much earlier than previous ones I have attended (at 12:30PM opposed to 5PM) so it was nice for a change to not have to spend all day waiting. Nevertheless, I arrived early, and (per usual) was first in line (and this time there was a nice bonus for this distinction, which I will mention shortly); interestingly, there were no wristbands given out with the purchase of the CD (and apparently there was also no limit to the number of CDs one person could get signed).

As the time of the CD signing was approaching, I heard (all right, overheard) some of the representatives from the show mention that Mr. Warlow would not be able to attend due to illness (apparently from food poisoning the night before), which (honestly) distressed me a bit, but it wasn’t his fault that happened (and I suppose I’ll find another opportunity to meet him). Nevertheless, the popular draw for the signing was Jane Lynch, and sure enough a good number of people waiting on line were Glee fans, and as the morning progressed, the line started to grow and wrap around the shelves. Shortly before the signing began, Lilla Crawford, who plays the titular orphan, appeared with a hand camcorder recording a video for Broadway.com.

The cast, and creative team, which consisted of composer Charles Strouse, lyricist Martin Charnin, and book writer Thomas Meehan, as well as record producer Thomas Z. Shepard, soon appeared and after a quick photo session for the press, the signing started in earnest.  The line moved steadily, and as I approached the creative team, I took the opportunity to shake Mr. Charnin’s hand and thank him (and also Mr. Strouse and Mr. Meehan) for this wonderful show. As I made my way down the end of the line, Douglas Denoff (another one of the record producers was at the other end of the line and asked to take a photo of me with the signed CDs (as he had learned that I arrived early for the signing and was first in line), which was a nice gesture, and a nice reward (if you will) of my dedication.

Annie Cast and Creative Team

 

The Creative Team behind Annie: (from left to right) Thomas Meehan (book), Martin  Charnin (lyrics) & Charles Strouse (music)

Fully Dressed With A Smile: (from left to right) Thomas Meehan (book), Martin Charnin (lyrics) and Charles Strouse (music)

There was no opportunity to linger about, as there was a long line behind me, and everyone was being ushered out after their CD booklets were signed. Nevertheless, it was a lovely experience to meet the cast and also the entire creative team of such an iconic show, and to have the opportunity to thank them for their wonderful work.

Annie Signed CDs