In the American professional musical theater pantheon, is there no place over which Broadway does not cast a looming shadow? A show opening in Chicago or Los Angeles is immediately scrutinized to see if it could “make it” in a successful Broadway run. Even on Broadway itself, one might dissect a musical and place it under a battery of criteria to see if it is, indeed, up to snuff. The standard is very high and, for better or for worse, professional musical theatre cannot be watched without it. Often, this provides a distinct hindrance to the enjoyment of the work.
But there is a neighbor to this temple that seems to defy its rules and criteria: community theater. Despite the exact match of music and book, it would be ludicrous to apply the same criteria to both community theater and professional shows. This is the very reason that community theater can shine in ways that professional theater simply cannot. These are not professionals on stage but our comrades and colleagues. It is this communal feeling that draws us into the work. Here there is no obstruction to enjoyment that can accompany the Broadway scrutiny and study. These are our friends, children, doctors and professors. We want them to hit that high A we feel proud when they succeed and we are hardly disappointed if they only get close. Community theater reaches levels of honesty and integrity that we don”t expect in professional theater.
With this in mind, I whole-heartedly recommend the Burns Park Players production of “Annie.”
“Annie” is the familiar rags-to-riches tale of a poor orphan, who through luck and her wits, eludes the clutches of the evil orphanage manager Miss Hannigan and finds a new family with the billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. But what can happen when orphan Annie”s “real” parents arrive? Only the fun-filled adventure unique to musical theater.
Directed by Mike Mosallam with musical direction by Garrett Miller, “Annie” stars Lizzie Bourque as Annie and Emily Doering, Carly Herman, Hannah Swanson and Ari Tolman as her fellow orphans. Also staring Steve Clay as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, Kristi Bishop as Grace Farrell, Janet Taylor as Ms. Hannigan, Joel Swanson as Rooster and Julie Halpert as Lily St. Regis. In addition, the show will feature many Burns Park Elementary School students from grades 1-5. Choreography is by Mike Mosallam, Garrett Miller and Amanda Stanger-Read.
“Annie” plays on Friday and Saturday, February 8-9, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 14-16, at the Tappan Middle School Auditorium, located at 2251 E. Stadium Blvd. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. except for the Feb. 16 show, which begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 each and are available at the door one hour before the show or in advance through Food and Drug Mart, located at 1423 E. Stadium Blvd. at Packard. All tickets are general admission.