Review: Seattle Musical Theater's Annie is a presentation not to miss

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Annie and her dog Sandy
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Review by Jim Anderson

Seattle Musical Theatre continues its 40th anniversary season with the second of five musicals presented in its home at Magnuson Park.

The musical theater production of Annie runs through December 17th.

Whether you already like Annie, or if you like the intimacy of small theater, or even if you just think people should smile and laugh and think optimistically – at least once in awhile – this is a presentation not to miss. This was my fourth or fifth ‘Annie’ and this is the best I have seen.

Some of that is the venue – intimate and warm and close to the stage and the music, but most of it is music, acting and singing at its best and most natural. On opening night, Faith Young as Annie never missed a beat. A natural for her role, her voice was clear and innocent, and carried a spirit of fun and optimism into every note and line.

For just a moment, opening night ‘whatever’ tried to strike half way into Act One at the presentation of the song, ‘Tomorrow’. Either the orchestra or the actress missed something from the first line of the score – and you must know, the song is really needed to set the optimistic tone of the story. Not – a – problem! The audience may not have even spotted it, because Faith Young quickly found the first note on her own – and nailed it!

What could have become a dark note, instead seemed to inspire everyone on stage and in the orchestra. Every song sounded as vibrant and fresh as the first night and as smooth as if they had performed these songs together for months.

The villains are the most fun.
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

One thing that makes this Annie so appealing are the villains. Director Tyrone Brown clearly sets up each villain to show the actors’ talents – and they shine! Rachel Brinn’s Miss Hannigan starts out ragging on children, establishing her villainy, and each scene after makes this character either pathetic or stunningly funny. You’ll want to see and hear each villain sing and prance again and again. Their light villainous touch will leave you laughing until they finally prance off to jail.

Noel Barbuto as Daddy Warbucks
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Nestled into the center of all this are the plot’s heroes, Daddy Warbucks, his staff, and the 32nd President of the United States. The best Mr. Warbucks I’ve ever seen comes from the natural presence on stage of actor Noel Barbuto. The worst seats in the house have this giant of a man seemingly just a few feet away, but his engaging talent will have him in your head.

Warbuck’s secretary, Grace (Hayley Gaarde), glowed with an inner kindness that seemed to stun each villain. Michael Byron-Ingersoll, the butler, proves again and again that an actor can multiply the effect of any scene by the nod of a head or the stretch of an arm or a word.

President Roosevelt and his staff
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Actors portraying the rest of Warbuck’s staff were amazing to watch. Each one lived on stage as if they were the star of the show, filling every moment with something to enjoy. And President Roosevelt came alive in posture, in his mythical and real words, and in what he meant to many who saw hope in dark times. His actor, Ed Robinson, became invisible.

You should note that alternating performances will see one of two actors in the role of Annie, Faith Young and Sydney Beaty. I captured a few moments with each and their parents after the show. Both young ladies have caught the acting bug and each has performed Annie multiple times. Faith Young is a fifth grader whose studies are integrated into the life of an actor. Sydney Beaty is an avid gymnast, diver and actor who is schooled in West Seattle at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This is the second of five musicals presented at The Seattle Musical Theater at Magnuson Park (7120 62nd Avenue NE). Evening showtimes are every Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Thursday the 14th at 7:30pm. SMT also presents three 2pm matinees: Sunday, December 10th, Saturday the 16th, and the finale on Sunday, December 17th.

Tickets here.

King County Metro has regular service at times suitable for every performance (before and after) for Northgate Transit Center (Route 75), Downtown Seattle (Route 62), and other locations (see Metro schedule). The theater is accessible.


Mary Power December 7, 2017 at 8:57 AM  

Great review of a great show! I'm curious - what did you think of the orphans??

Kim Maguire December 7, 2017 at 4:07 PM  

it would be great if the actors names were listed under the photos. :)

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