A show for the season and the times
Any show with kids and dogs is fraught with peril. Thanks to director Ray Jivoff and cast, the Sunset Playhouse production of Annie gives you nothing to worry about.
Due to the number of shows and the strenuous rehearsal schedule, Sunset split the labor among two children’s casts (twice the kids also helps at the box office — more grandparents to buy tickets).
I saw the “New Deal” cast, led by Ellie Taft in the title role. Ellie, a 7th grader at Whitefish Bay Middle School, was wonderful. She led the cast, both kids and adults, through the catchy score and handled her faithful dog, Sandy, as well as anyone could have. Ellie was sweet, yet tough, coy, yet sympathetic. She was Annie.
This musical fits the time of year. It pulls on the heartstrings as it brings together a couple of tough cookies, in Annie and Oliver Warbucks, and reveals their human, vulnerable sides along the way.
Everyone knows the story of Annie and the music that goes with it. But as familiar as the songs have become, they haven’t become corny. They remain genuine, particularly in today’s world. Maybe and Hard Knock Life to Easy Street and Tomorrow this musical score is timeless and meaningful. Even NYC worked, despite a little bit of a cast letdown during that particular number.
The Sunset has done Annie justice.
The Sunset Playhouse was extremely fortunate to land Ellen Kozak as its costume designer. Kozak captured the early 1930s, the period in which the story is set. The performers looked as if they had gone back in time to do their clothes shopping. The clothes are not extravagant — a Depression was going on — but the fit the show and help to tell the story.
Annie runs through New Year’s Eve at the Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road. For tickets, call 262 782-4430 or visit the company’s website.