Review: Annie at the Murat

Leapin' lizards! It's Annie!

Leapin’ lizards! It’s Annie!

Much to the astonishment of my wife, I’ve never seen “Annie.” But that was about to change, thanks to Indianapolis City Market, which gave us four free tickets to see the pint-sized redhead, Daddy Warbucks, Ms. Hannigan and more during its national tour at the Murat Theatre downtown on Opening Night.

All I really knew in advance was that some precocious girl named Annie starts off in an orphanage, sings a Jay-Z song with a bunch of other orphans and eventually gets adopted by some rich Republican. Oh, and that there’s a dog.

What I didn’t know is how much I would love seeing this musical in person. Issie Swickle hit it out of the park as the title character, from her “Oh, gee-s” and “leapin’ lizards” to the staple song “Tomorrow.” How can you not root for someone so lovable? Hannigan, played by Lynn Andrews, nearly steals the show with her over-the-top, supporting comedic performance, but everyone—from FDR to the supporting cast—all did a superb job of complementing one another and the script. Even Sandy was played by a real dog, well, two, actually, who together pull off a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen-type performance.

Showtime!

Showtime!

I consulted with my wife on the costumes—her background is in history—and she approved (I can never tell if anything is historically accurate, rather, it either just looks “cool” or “uncool”). The sets were sufficient and completed the illusion that you were in 1930s New York City.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, 11-year-old Annie is in a girls’ orphanage and is eventually brought to the billionaire Oliver Warbucks’ posh NYC mansion for two weeks around Christmas. What starts off as a vacation of sorts from the orphanage turns into a full-fledged adoption, but not without first trying to find Annie’s biological parents and dealing with some schemers who want to claim Annie and Warbucks’ $50,000 reward for her real parents. Toss in a rather funny scene at The White House with FDR and his advisors and you might be surprised how one of the most innovative programs to come out of Washington, D.C., The New Deal, came to be! They never taught me that part in my high school history class …

Annie plays at the Murat through Sunday.

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