Entertainment » Theatre

Annie at the Hollywood Bowl

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 30, 2018
Annie at the Hollywood Bowl

Continuing the Hollywood Bowl's tradition of putting on a classic stage musical every year with an all-star cast, the family-friendly legendary "Annie" leaps her lizards and lands in the middle of the Bowl stage.

While not able to utilize an ever-changing set like a traditional Broadway show, the Bowl's "let's put on a show in three weeks" dynamic forces the creative team to come up with wonderfully clever ways to tell the story with minimal sets.

Here, director Michael Arden (who helmed the Tony-winning revival of "Once on This Island") literally places huge letters center stage that spell out "Annie" in its iconic font. Those letters will spin and turn becoming the attic of an orphanage or the interior of the mansion, or transform into a simple doorway. Limited props and set dressings give each scene its theme and it's a credit to Arden and his team that you almost don't miss a customary set.

The orchestra itself (conducted by Todd Ellison) was on full display on a two-story platform behind the letters that also rotated affording the podium to do double duty as part of the set itself.

But while the ingenuity of the set was fun, it was the all-star cast that made this "Annie" so enjoyable.

"Smash's" Megan Hilty played the dim Lily St. Regis and Broadway staple Roger Bart ("Young Frankenstein") was her boyfriend Rooster Hannigan. David Alan Grier was the harsh businessman with a heart of gold Daddy Warbucks, and Lea Salonga (the original "Miss Saigon") was his assistant Grace Farrell.

The standouts, however, were Kaylin Hedges as the title character whose crisp vocals promise a continued career on stage. While the characterization of Annie wasn't as rough and tumble as, say, Aileen Quinn's take in the 1982 movie version, she's still as sweet and innocent as the play needs her to be.

Ana Gasteyer ("Saturday Night Live" and Elphaba in Broadway's "Wicked") is terrific as Mrs. Hannigan showing off her known comedic skills and wowing us with her rich, stellar voice. What a treat!

All in all, this "Annie" is a harmless and adorable adaptation that charmed the Bowl's audiences for three nights straight. It's nice that after tackling "Spamalot," "A Chorus Line," and "Hair," this one allowed the kiddies to experience an honest-to-goodness stage show maybe for the first time.

In fact, this critic was having flashbacks to his first live musical at the age of 11: none other than the first touring company of "Annie."

"Annie" played July 27-29th at the Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. For upcoming events at the Bowl visit www.hollywoodbowl.com.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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