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Millcreek Journal

REVIEW: Optimism and resilience take center stage in ‘Annie’

May 11, 2024 01:26PM ● By Peri Kinder

“Annie” plays at the Eccles Theater, May 10-12. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

How do you rediscover the joy of a musical you’ve seen dozens of times? Take a child with you. My granddaughter and I went to the Broadway at the Eccles production of “Annie”. Seeing the play through the eyes of an 8-year-old rekindled the fun and humor the musical is known for.

Annie, played by Rainier (Rainey) Trevino, lives in an orphanage run by the embittered and alcoholic Miss Hannigan, portrayed perfectly by Stefanie Londino. Annie is convinced her parents will come get her any day, even though she was abandoned more than 11 years earlier. 

Belting out the first song, “Maybe”, Trevino demonstrated some serious star power. She engaged and connected with the audience immediately as we watched her escape the orphanage, find the beloved dog Sandy (Kevin) and enchant the people who came her way.

After she is returned to the orphanage, Annie is invited to spend two weeks with the billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Christopher Swan), to celebrate Christmas. The chemistry between the two was fun to watch and my granddaughter loved the purple coat Warbucks bought for Annie. With several duets, the duo complimented each other, bringing a lively energy to the performance.

Miss Hannigan conspires with her no-good brother Rooster (Jerquintez A. Gibson) and his squeaky girlfriend Lily (Krista Curry) with the song “Easy Street” and they decide to trick Warbucks who has offered a reward for Annie’s parents. The scene is an exuberant example of greed that is a treat to watch.

Warbucks’ assistant Grace Farrell (Julia Nicole Hunter) is a calm, competent counterpart to his high-energy, wealthy business persona. Her connection with Annie is sweet and brings sharp contrast to Hannigan’s spite.

Trevino’s performance of the show-stopping “Tomorrow” was a highlight for the musical. Resilience is the main theme of “Annie” and the song is beautifully done. 

A big shout out to Annie’s talented fellow orphans who each had a chance to shine in several musical numbers. The supporting cast members performed several roles with energy and confidence, especially Jaelle Laguerre whose powerhouse vocals stole every scene. 

Costumes (Alejo Vietti), scenic design (Wilson Chin), choreography (Patricia Wilcox) and direction (Jenn Thompson) were superb, with scenes flowing easily and natural character interaction. Everything gave off the feeling of depression-era America complete with homelessness, unemployment, poverty and social unrest. Much like today. 

While “Annie” was only in Salt Lake City at Eccles Theater for a few days (May 10-12), it was worth attending, especially seeing it through new eyes. My granddaughter gave it a big thumbs up, especially the cute, well-trained dog.