Annie Comes to Philly’s Own Kimmel Center

When dealing with a classic musical, there are a significant number of weighty decisions the artistic directors, actors, and production team make. Will they place it in its traditional setting or update it with a twist? Will they make traditional or modern casting decisions? Will they place it in a different cultural context? 

Smart production companies know their audience, their preferences, and make decisions that will both please and intrigue their patrons. This can be especially challenging for those within travel distance to Broadway itself.  Consider also that the patrons of the arts are more culturally and socially diverse than in the past. 

Sophie Stromberg, Vivianne Neely, Valeria Velasco, Kenzie Rees, Riglee Ruth Bryson and Bronte Harrison in the National Tour of ANNIE. Photo Credit_ Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

The production company sought to appeal to the broadest audience possible with three intentional choices. First, they maintained the giggly girly screams, laughs, pigtails, and celebration of silly adolescents from the classic performances. This kept the material true and familiar to the original and well-known productions. 

And these actresses owned it. Right from their pre-show emergency evacuation plan throughout each scene, each actress fully embodied their character without breaking. Oh, and the singing was precise, punchy, and spunky throughout the show, as should be expected. 

To entice a more modern audience, the dance routines receive a bit of a modern flare and tuning to current styles that may or may not cause some of us to pull multiple muscles if we tried them at home. This went over well with the audience, though I may be more of a fan of keeping classic broadway dancing with classic musicals—but that is simply a matter of preference. 

Krista Curry, Nick Bernardi and Stefanie Londino in the National Tour of ANNIE. Photo Credit_ Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

The audience especially loved the acting, dancing and actions of Miss Hannigan when the orphans were not on stage. Bringing children to the performance is recommended and I watched as many at the venue enjoyed the exuberance and enthusiasm flying off the stage. 

They really did all they could to reach a broad audience, and to add a little cherry on top, the classic mockery of New York City went over very well with a Philidelphia audience of Pennsylvanians and New Jersey residents. 

Some other notes: The company made so many great casting, set, singing, and tone choices. How they found such young talent in abundance is quite amazing. Additionally, the pit orchestra thoroughly enhanced the musicality and value of this production.

Ellie Pulsifer and Addison in the National Tour of ANNIE. Photo Credit_ Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade .jpg

This little orphan of a traveling production is worth adopting for an evening. With a little bit of something for everyone, your whole group can leave entertained and a bit more buoyant and optimistic about life—even if the chances of the sun coming out tomorrow during this season are about fifty percent.

The National Touring Company of ANNIE. Photo Credit_ Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

ANNIE is known for its triumphant story of hope, determination, and optimism from Little Orphan Annie when she is left at mean Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. The production is brought to life by the talented cast including Ellie Pulsifer as ANNIE, and Stefanie Londino as Miss Hannigan. The music and story of ANNIE, which has been enjoyed for generations after generations, kicks off the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ 2022-2023 Broadway Series season.   ANNIE, directed by Jenn Thompson, features the iconic book and score, written by Tony Award®—winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin.

To get your own tickets, visit Annie is playing at the Kimmel Center now through October 16th, so grab your tickets while you can! You can also follow AnnieOnTour through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

*we were invited to see the show to facilitate a feature, all opinions are our own*

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