By: Michael Gomez-Cruz, Lindenwold High School, Lindenwold
PINE HILL, N.J. — A wise girl with red hair and starry eyes once said: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Overbrook High School put on a performance of the well-known Broadway musical “Annie,” which ran from March 23-25, brought back fond memories of laughter and smiles.
Based on the 1920s comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” this touching musical follows 11-year-old Annie in depression-era New York. The young girl is suddenly whisked away from her orphanage and its perpetually drunk and sarcastic caretaker to spend two weeks with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie brings warmth to the aloof heart of the tycoon and practically everyone else she meets in a time of stress and poverty. The show made its Broadway debut in 1977, winning a Tony for Best Musical, and has spawned three movie adaptations.
“Annie” was a visual masterpiece with period costumes, props, and a stunning backdrop of the New York City skyline. In keeping with the time, each of the raggle-taggle orphan girls had her own charmingly individual pair of rags. Overbrook’s Theater Department likewise made the indistinguishable regalia for the ideal servants of the Warbucks family. Stunningly, each outfit and prop appeared like it had been supernaturally culled from the 1930s, whether it was a fire hydrant, cap, or wheelchair.
While it is undeniable that Sandy the dog, Annie’s lovable and occasionally recalcitrant sidekick, did not fail to win a few hearts, it was Annie herself, portrayed by Nalae Zachary-Hairston, who was the show’s real star. Hairston never wavered as she led the audience through all her adventures in New York with childlike enthusiasm and impressive vocal stamina. She assumed responsibility in the show’s element melody Tomorrow with overwhelming appeal that carried grins to all.
The delightful and amusing Miss Hannigan (Amaya Bullock) grabbed attention with a piquant style and zealous manner. Her hilarious theatrics brought spunk to the show, as well as fanatical energy and comical personality. She delivered sidesplitting lines with creative ease. Grace (Natalie Sosing) was easy-going and graceful in the spotlight. With a beautiful voice and sweet temperament, she had a cheerful stage presence and girly approach to a light-hearted, likable character. She brought elegance to the stage.
The sets never failed to impress from the moment the curtains opened. Each piece of the set was meticulously built and designed, with numerous intricate designs. The publicity and marketing team was also notable. They promoted their show to the community in the surrounding area in novel and creative ways.
The entire cast gave an outstanding performance. Overbrook High School told the story to some for the first time, even though it reminded many of a family favorite. It is undeniably a reviving, heartwarming treat at any time, regardless of age or how many times you have seen “Annie” recreated.
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