It’s a 40-year-old musical based on a 90-year-old comic strip, but “Annie” can still charm audiences.
A non-Equity U.S. tour of the entertaining musical that gave us the song “Tomorrow” will stop in Sarasota for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
An 11-year-old Sarasota actor, Tori Bates, has the title role on this tour. Area audiences saw her most recently in a powerful performance as the young Josephine Baker “Josephine” at Asolo Repertory Theatre.
“Tomorrow” is the show’s best-known song, and it pops up several times in the show, sung by everyone from Little Orphan Annie to Franklin D. Roosevelt. But it’s not one of Annie’s better songs. “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” “Easy Street” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” (which found life outside the show through Sia’s hit version from the 2014 film version) are among the many songs that are almost undeniably stronger and definitely less saccharine.
Besides lots of great songs by Charles Strouse (of “Bye Bye Birdie” fame) and Martin Charnin (who directed this production), “Annie” features a fun and heartwarming story (with a book by Thomas Meehan, who also co-wrote “The Producers” and “Hairspray”).
The musical debuted on Broadway in 1977 and ran for six years, winning eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Bets Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. It has toured the country many times, often with big-name stars and has been adapted for the screen three times.