Review: Annie (Broadway in Chicago, 2016)

| November 13, 2016

Tori Bates stars as Annie, with Sandy, Broadway in Chicago tour           


Written by Charles Strouse (music),
Thomas Meehan (book), Martin Charnin (lyrics)
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Apr 13  |  tix: $25-$110  |  more info      

Check for half-price tickets    


The sun comes up on this feel-good, family-friendly ‘Annie’


Broadway in Chicago presents Annie the Musical

Broadway in Chicago presents

Review by Duane Barnes

Everyone knows about Annie. She appeared in New York 39 years ago (actually earlier than that in the Sunday comics) and has been going strong ever since. She’s no taller, no older but she still puts on a great show and a marvelous evening of song, laughter and entertainment. And it’s not just for the youngsters either (the theater was packed with ‘em), because parents were enjoying the play just as much as their offspring. This almost 40-year old musical, created by Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music) and Martin Charnin (lyrics), is performed in 28 languages and has been running around the world since its inception

Erin Fish stars as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Broadway in ChicagoAnnie offers song, dance, laughs and many references to New York City, the 1930’s and even the New Deal of FDR fame. And the show, under the direction of one of the original creators, Martin Charnin (lyricist), moves along merrily, constantly setting up the audience for what might be coming next.

We all know the story. Annie (played with verve by Tori Bates) is in an orphanage with eight other unfortunate young girls (who sing and dance as a chorus as well as looking very adoptable) under the stern and uncaring eye of Miss Hannigan, played with exceeding meanness by Erin Fish. She doesn’t want kids, she wants ‘out’ and preferably with a man, any man. By chance, Annie is plucked out of the orphanage to spend two weeks at the home of the wealthy Oliver Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett, a master of this role) during the Christmas season. Of course, Annie melts his heart with the quiet plea to find her real parents. Enter the Bad Guys, Rooster Hannigan, the no-good brother of Miss Hannigan (products of bad parenting, I’m thinking) and Lily St. Regis (played schemingly well by Michael Santora and Mallory King respectively). They hope to capitalize on a reward offered by Warbucks to find Annie’s parents using inside information from Rooster’s sister, the three of them to divide the ill-gotten gains.

All of these happenings keep the kids enthralled but from time to time, there’s something thrown out there for the older folks, too. Example: Warbucks’ secretary giving her boss his phone messages-“You had two calls.” “who from?” “The first was from President Roosevelt.” “He can wait. Who’s the other call from?” “Harpo Marx.” “What’d he want?” “He didn’t say.” You had to be quick to catch it.

Tori Bates, Gilgamesh Taggett and Casey Prins in Annie, Broadway in Chicago Tori Bates stars as Annie, with Sandy, Broadway in Chicago 3Tori Bates and orphans star in Annie, Broadway in Chicago

The sets were outstanding and deserved the plaudits of the audience. Designed by Beowulf Boritt, the backdrops for the orphanage, the Bowery streets of New York City with the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance and the elegant offices and home of Daddy Warbucks were staggeringly beautiful.

And a deserved word for the orchestra and its conductor, Keith Levenson. My son Bruce, also a conductor on the national tours, said to me once, “no one knows what goes on in the pit. All the audience sees is the stage and the top of the conductor’s head”. So, I listen to the orchestra and can tell you they were a big part of a successful evening. They kept the pace up and meshed musical gears with the cast that kept the story moving with ne’er a lull. Kudos to the unsung heroes, the musicians and conductor in the pit!

Lastly, let us not forget the lovable dog, Sandy, meeting Annie on the mean streets of New York, realizing they were meant to be with one another. Responding to gentle commands and trained to do so by William Berloni, he stole the hearts of all the youngsters in the audience, no matter how old, even though his appearances were brief.

In summation, this is a lovely, glorious, filled-with-happiness evening. If the tour is coming to your city, be sure you don’t miss out on this feel-good, family-friendly production.

Rating: ★★★½

Annie continues through November 13th at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map).  Tickets are $25-$110, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at More info at time: 2 hours 20 minutes, includes an intermission)

Mallory King, Michael Santora and Erin Fish star in Annie, Broadway in Chicago

Photos by Joan Marcus 




Gilgamesh Taggett (Oliver Warbucks), Erin Fish (Miss Hannigan), Tori Bates (Annie), Casey Prins (Grace Farrell), Michael Santora (Rooster Hannigan), Mallory King (Lily St. Regis), Jeffrey B. Duncan (FDR, u/s Warbucks), Timothy Allen (Ickes, u/s Rooster), Bunny Baldwin (Molly), Todd Berkich (Bert), Katie Davis (Star to Be), Adam du Plessis (Drake), Jacqueline Galvano (July), Connor McGiffin (Bundles), Connor Simpson (Lt. Ward), Ava Slater (Kate), Amanda Swickle (Pepper), Amanda Wylie (Tessie), Katie Wylie (Duffy), Roxy York (Mrs. Pugh), Macy, Sunny (Sandy), Mia Fitzgibbon, Caroline Lellouche (ensemble), MacKenzie Perpich, David Vogel, Anastasia Wolfe (swings)


Keith Levenson (music director, keyboard), Matthew J. Pool (asst. music director, keyboard 2), Daniel Dorrance (woodwinds), Danielle Giulini (violin), Emma Stanley (trumpet), Craig Watson (trombone), Darren Lucas (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Katie Steinhauer (drums)

behind the scenes

Martin Charnin (director, lyricist), Liza Gennaro (choreographer), Beowulf Boritt (set design), Suzy Benzinger (costume design), Ken Billington (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Campbell Young Associates (hair, wig, makeup design), William Berloni (animal trainer), Keith Levenson (music director, music supervisor, additional orchestrations), Joy Dewing Casting (casting director), Townsend Teague (general manager), Randy Moreland (technical director), Suzayn MacKenzie-Roy (production stage manager), Kelsey Clark (stage manager), Mark Johnson (company manager), David Vogel (dance captain), Anastasia Wolfe (asst. dance captain), Daniel Dorrance (band tech), Talitha Fehr (music coordinator), Randall A Buck, Troika Entertainment (producers), Joan Marcus (photographer)

Tori Bates stars as Annie, with Sandy, Broadway in Chicago


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Category: 2016 Reviews, Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Charles Strouse, Duane Barnes, Musical, National Tours, Video, YouTube

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