Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA.
December 5, 2023.
The iconic Tony Award-winning musical Annie has made its way to Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. The National Tour will be in town for a limited engagement, from December 5-10. Directed by Jenn Thompson, with choreography by Patricia Wilcox, the show includes audience favorites, “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Little Girls” and, of course, “Tomorrow.” Known for its spunky redhead with a penchant for always finding the bright-side, Annie is timeless for a reason – its ability to capture the hearts of each generation and remind them, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”
Whether through song, or perfect comedic timing, Rainier “Rainey” Treviño portrayed the titular orphan with wide-eyed wonder. Treviño’s vocals were confident and clear – truly outstanding for someone her age and stage. It was opening night, and what nerves she may have initially felt quickly dissipated. At only 11 years old, her professionalism shone when a technical difficulty forced a brief pause early in the show. Without missing a beat, Treviño hurried offstage, and returned moments later before belting out the beloved “Tomorrow” with the lovable mutt Sandy by her side.
Stefanie Londino, in the role of Miss Hannigan, was an immediate standout. Londino perfectly captured the essence of Hannigan – I couldn’t help but quickly draw parallels between her performance and Carol Burnett’s in the 1982 film. Although likely inspired by Burnett’s depiction of Hannigan, Londino took her own approach to the negligent antagonist, adding blues-y runs and cheeky mannerisms to the songs, filling out the character even more. This is Londino’s second National Tour as Miss Hannigan, and I can’t imagine anyone else filling her snakeskin shoes.
Christopher Swan reprised his role as Oliver Warbucks, and it’s easy to see why. Swan nailed the tough exterior, soft-hearted billionaire. The dynamics between Swan and Treviño made the timeless characters even more endearing. As the two sang and danced during “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” the audience could see the trust and admiration each had for the other. Julia Nicole Hunter reprised her role as Grace, secretary to Mr. Warbucks. Hunter’s command of the stage proved her veteran status. It was obvious Hunter was made for a role as this – no nonsense, yet kind, with crystal-clear vocals to boot.
Having so many key roles reprised by former actors speaks to the quality of the team surrounding Annie. I can’t help but think how having that continuity is beneficial to the young actors who rotate in and out as orphans. What a gift to have seasoned adults onstage and off to guide and support them.
While I was a bit disappointed by the lack of big dance numbers, choreography shone for small groups. “Easy Street” captured the jazzy song and iconic characters through dance. Another standout choreography moment was in “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Perhaps it was because we were into the second act of opening night, but in this number the orphans appeared a bit more relaxed and able to enjoy themselves onstage. The audience responded accordingly – the biggest applause of the night, up until that point, happened as the girls hit their final pose.
My signature song as a young girl was “Tomorrow.” I would belt the lyrics, as my mom accompanied me on the piano, or sometimes I’d sing acapella to friends and family who would listen. But, as with so many of us, it’s easy for childlike optimism to be replaced with realism backed by life’s “hard knocks.” Having the chance to once again be swept away by the forever sunny outlook of Broadway’s Annie was just what my heart needed entering this Christmas season.
Be sure to catch Annie on its National Tour! Visit www.AnnieTour.com to learn more.
By Melody McTier Thomason of Dance Informa.