‘Annie’ Production Worth The Trip

ALLEGANY – Bet your bottom dollar, if you love musical theater, you’ll have a good time this weekend at Allegany-Limestone High School.

That is the site for performances of ”Annie,” produced by Olean Community Theatre. Performances are 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today, and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The show is the work of Thomas Meehan, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Chamin. It’s all based on the popular comic strip about a young, gutsy orphan girl and her faithful dog Sandy.

The Olean company gives the familiar show a great deal of energy and charm, with high production values and an attractive and energetic cast.

Young Olivia Obergfell dons the curly red wig as the title character. The plot concerns an orphan from a cruel workhouse orphanage in New York City at the height of the Great Depression. When billionaire Oliver Warbucks decides to bring an orphan into his home for Christmas, the orphan and the industrialist are set for adventures. and everyone sings and dances and ends up happy at the end, even FDR.

Especially good performances came from Ardyth Van Scoy as Miss Hannigan, the hard-drinking administrator of the orphanage where Annie begins her journey, and Jake Riggs as her con man brother, Rooster. Both were comically evil without taking the wicked traits over the top.

Bridgette Martin was fine, also as Lilly St. Regis, Rooster’s girlfriend who is named for a hotel.

Rodney Stebbins was masterful as the billionaire, Warbucks, and he must have been up all night, last night, stuffing that shirt in order to master the part so well. Tanaka Van Druff was lovely as his faithful secretary.

Nathan H. Bell directed, producing a production with plenty of energy and movement. Occasionally an event slipped through which didn’t seem justified by what went before and what came after, but it was rare and the show was fully enjoyable as presented.

Ruth Fuller and the show’s orchestra were a major plus, always maintaining the colors of the songs they were playing.

Of course it wouldn’t be a production of ”Annie” without a hard knock chorus of orphans, so a special bouquet is tossed to Olivia Emley, Maddison McClelland, Mia Rogers, Mariah Moses, Hannah Kloss, EmaLee Dedrick, and also Grace Emley, Willow Lapp, Sydney McClelland, Kali O’Neil, Ashlyn Schuman, Ellie Waugaman, and Libby Waugaman. I do hope I got them all. I tried to do so.

Chances are, you’re familiar with the show and the music, and you can have a lot of fun if you make it to one of their performances.

The show was reviewed in dress rehearsal, at the company’s request.