“Annie” Brings a Smile to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

You know how when you sit in your favorite chair or bundle up in your favorite blanket you just feel at ease? That is how this production of Annie felt to me as soon as the overture started.

Based on “Little Orphan Annie,” a nearly 100 year old comic strip, Annie first took to the Broadway stage in 1977 where it ran for years and won multiple Tony Awards. Now, almost 45 years later, it is on multi year tour teaching a whole new generation about a ‘Hard Knock Life.’

Growing up with a younger sister in 1982, John Huston’s film adaptation soundtrack was always on the record player, with the film then on VHS. If she ever asks, I will deny this, but I most definitely fell in love with all those songs. By far the thing that always stood out from that original film was the amazing casting of Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan and Tim Curry as Rooster. On that note, for this touring production, the casting of Stefanie Londino and Jeffery T. Kelly in those parts brings such life to those roles — so much so that, if they attempted to bring back the ill fated sequel Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge with these two (plus adding in Samantha Stevens as Lily St. Regis), I would be first in line!

It is hard to have Annie without Annie and Daddy Warbucks and Rainier (Rainey) Treviño and Christopher Swan step into those shoes with such ease you would think these roles were written for them. Looking up information on Rainey, I was blown away to find that she is only 11 years old. She along with the other members of the orphanage really do steal the show with their rendition of “It’s A Hard Knock Life,” but when she is singing “Maybe,” she just owns the stage as well as all of our hearts.

As the song goes, “you're never fully dressed without a smile” — and boy have I been smiling since I walked out of the Walt Disney Theater. As I said at the start, Annie just puts me at ease and from the amazing musicians in the pit to every single talented performer that took that stage this show was just perfection!

Annie is at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando through October 29, 2023, but if you can’t catch it there it is only one stop in the North American Tour continuing through next year.

Jeremiah Good
Our main correspondent for Walt Disney World and the Orlando area and a heck of a paleontologist if he does say so himself.