It's too long to cut and paste the whole thing here, but here's a very fine and remarkably detailed review of one local production of ANNIE JR - http://mtiblog.mtishows.com/filichia-features-the-sun-comes-out-on-....
Some highlights, in my book:
[Executive director Derek] Woods is an Emmy-nominated videographer, too, and he put those talents to great use with ANNIE JR. As the overture plays, he shows in black-and-white film movie-like credits on the back wall. First, he gives credit where credit was due — to bookwriter Thomas Meehan, composer Charles Strouse, lyricist Martin Charnin and director-choreographer Katy Baker. But then – but then — Woods smartly puts on the screen the 37 names of each and every member of the cast. The result? Before the show even begins, parents and friends are cheering as they spy the names of the kids they came to see, now prominently emblazoned and celebrated. I suggest that every community theater do this, for it immediately gets the crowd in a happy and receptive mood. For ANNIE JR., it’s particularly apt, for listing an entire cast by name was a convention of movies in the thirties – the time in which this musical takes place...
Woods also makes a wise and innovative lighting decision during Miss Hannigan’s complaint about “Little Girls.” Midway through the number, he suddenly and completely bathes the stage in red. It suggests that Hannigan would like to start a Reign of Terror on the kids that would make the one enacted during the French Revolution seem like a playground spat. And when Warbucks, Grace and Annie get inside the Roxy and start watching the movie, Woods shows a scene from King Kong — which indeed was released in 1933, when ANNIE JR. takes place...
With special permission from MTI, Riverdale used two teaching artists: Christina Pagan for Miss Hannigan and Guy Ventroliere for Daddy Warbucks,” she says. “They’re professional actors who aren’t just great with kids; they were a huge support because they helped teach, block, hang lights, build the set, facilitate scene changes and aided classroom management. For young actors to have professional actors with them was very special. This allowed them to gain an understanding of the right way to share a scene on stage...
Baker’s finest moment may well be a sequence during “N.Y.C.” To create the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, she has some kids mime riding and strap-hanging on the subway. But she doesn’t stop there. Baker has instructed one kid to pretend to be checking the racing form and making his decision on what horse to play; she has another anxiously consulting her watch to see if the train will get her to work on time; and she has yet another simply reading. Baker, like the best directors, knows enough to make every ensemble member a distinct character. “Giving each kid at least one moment to shine is a vital component in a children’s theater production,” says Baker. “It was important to me that the kids’ parents got to be impressed by something their child did on stage.”
I would love to be able to see this production. It sounds like a perfect example of what we've been discussing in other threads, whether the show should be done "the same as always," or whether creative teams should make some new and different choices.
(I still don't like choosing to let Warbucks keep his hair, though!)
That is Annie JR? I think Warbucks is a little older than 18!
Jamey, as the article points out, they got a special dispensation from MTI to have "teaching artists" play Warbucks and Hannigan.
I didn't catch that at first. If they were going to cast two adults, it makes you wonder why they didn't just do the full-length musical.
Yeah, one wonders. Maybe "Annie, Jr." costs less to rent? Maybe time constraints? I've only seen "Annie, Jr." once, but my impression is, if the whole show was directed at a pretty good clip, it wouldn't last that much longer than the abridged version, anyway. Am I crazy to think that? I think the Jr production I saw clocked in at 90 minutes.
I was recently in a production of Annie Jr., and I can say that the production is vastly different than the full length musical. For starters, there are only 11 scenes. We'd Like to Thank You..., A New Deal For Christmas, Something Was Missing, the scene with Annie and FDR and that Tomorrow Reprise, and Never Fully Dressed (Not the reprise) are all cut. The numbers that are left are cut to the point of awkwardness. In Easy Street, there is only one verse and one chorus. NYC, when written out, is only a page and a half long, and only has one verse, two choruses, and the Star To Be solo. Many songs are chopped up so that each character could potentially sing at least one solo. Luckily, we had very flexible directors who were able to add a bit to the show, especially us older people, and were able to get the show to about an hour and 45 minutes.
Megan really hit that on the head. The first time I did that show it was Annie Jr. (and, yes, I was WAY too old to do it, too!). "You Won't Be an Orphan For Long" is cut but Warbucks reprise ("What a think to occur, finding them, losing her...") is still in the show! ???
Interestingly, my director in high school made the same call. I sang the reprise (although without the final line, so it stopped at "finding them,/losing her"), but the song was gone.
Oh, yes, I forgot Hooverville was missing. Ditto the White House - since my director in high school cut that scene and I never performed it, I didn't miss it as an adult. :) And, yes, now I remember some of the awkward chopping - "Little Girls," e.g., is missing the "I'm an ordinary woman..." bit.
Thanks for refreshing my memory!