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Review – ‘Annie’ at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa By Alexa Chipman

Generosity and holiday cheer infuse this sentimental story of a lonely orphan who discovers wealth and familial love with a crotchety old bachelor. Daddy Warbucks has striven for commercial success his entire life, and finds himself looking back to realize that it means nothing without companionship. When he invites Annie to stay for Christmas, she sweeps him away with her childish charm and irrepressible zeal for looking on the bright side of any situation. As a musical, it is rather repetitive, depending heavily on a few catchy tunes to carry the show.

Alina Kingwill Peterson’s captivating Annie is steadfast and focused, despite her goldendoodle Sandy (Asker) rushing about the stage, and a wavering orchestra. With efficient professionalism, she approaches each scene with care, and grounds the production with compassion.

The workaholic businessman, Daddy Warbucks (Larry Williams), is gently reminded to enjoy each moment, and Williams’ performance softens into a kindhearted benefactor as the story progresses. Morgan Harrington is marvelous as his private secretary, Grace, with rich tones delicately touched by vibrato and an array of lovely gowns by costume designer Pamela Johnson.

The trio of villains, Miss Hannigan (Daniela Innocenti-Beem), Lily St. Regis (Lydia Revelos) and Rooster (Jeff Coté) are magnificently wicked in “Easy Street” prancing about and preening. Their constant scheming and Miss Hannigan’s liquor-fueled tirades at the orphans keep the plot from becoming too saccharine.

ChoreographerJoseph Favalora has given the younger cast members just enough to work with. The movement is simple, but playful, such as the popular “Hard Knock Life,” which integrates buckets and rags with energetic dancing. Molly (Juliette Coté) is a stand-out with her mischievous shenanigans and comedic impressions of Miss Hannigan.

With pared down, rustic sets, Albert Casselhoff’s sound design takes center stage, recreating the traffic of New York, with bustling streetcars and crowds. The rest is left up to the audience’s imagination, with mobile doorways and a city skyline by Jeff Thomson.

Although it is not their best work, 6th Street's ‘Annie’ is a sweet holiday classic, with a spirited cast and direction by Michael Fontaine. If you are looking for a pleasant evening with a heart-warming message, ‘Annie’ fits the bill with its idyllic denouement and vintage charm.

Annie Presented by 6th Street Playhouse through December 22, 2018 Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sat/Sun at 2:00pm Thurs at 7:30pm December 6, 13, 20

G.K. Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (707) 523-4185

Photos by Eric Chazankin

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