Friday, October 25, 2019

Windham Center Stage delights audience with “Annie”

Grace (Kristen Ciampa) introduces Annie (Meghan Rivard)
to Oliver Warbucks (Randy Hunt)
By Elizabeth Richards
Windham Center Stage Theater’s (WCST) production of “Annie” was enthusiastically received by a full house on opening night, Friday, October 18th. 

“Annie” hit the movie theaters when I was a pre-teen, and my friends and I were instantly obsessed with both the movie and the soundtrack. Hours were spent acting out the plight of the little orphan and her friends, each of us taking a turn as the notorious Miss Hannigan. More than 35 years later, I can still sing every word to every song.

It’s risky seeing a production of such a beloved show – you run the risk of being severely disappointed if the cast doesn’t bring it to life in the way you envision it. But that was not the case at WCST last week. The talented cast created lively, engaging scenes that pulled me in and made me forget everything except what was happening on stage – exactly the way a live production should.

tombiczak@allstate.comThe show centers around Annie, a girl of 11 raised in an orphanage who believes with all her heart that her parents will be coming back for her someday. The orphanage, run by drunk, harried, nasty Miss Hannigan, is a dismal place, which Annie escapes temporarily by running away. The police bring her back, but in a lucky break, she is spotted by the secretary of wealthy Oliver Warbucks, who wants to host an orphan for the holiday season. 

Annie and Warbucks hit it off so well that he wants to adopt her, but before he can tell her, she tells him how much she wants to find her parents, and he vows to do everything he can to help. Hannigan, her con artist brother and his girlfriend cook up a scheme to pose as her long-lost parents and take the money Warbucks has offered if they are located. It looks as though they might succeed – until Warbucks’ resources uncover the truth.

Ultimately, this show is about hope and optimism, and the idea that dreams can come true – even if it’s not quite the way you think they will. WCST had a large, diverse cast that conveyed these themes well.

All the characters, big and small, were brought to life with perfect details interspersed throughout the production. Annie was portrayed perfectly by Meghan Rivard, a young girl with a powerful voice and just the right blend of optimism, mischief, and grit. Randy Hunt convincingly transformed Warbucks from “all business” to a caring man who would do anything for the young girl who stole his heart.

“It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Easy Street” were particularly fun to watch, but all the musical numbers were lively, engaging, and entertaining. “Annie” at Windham Center Stage is a show well worth seeing.

The show runs through November 3rd, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

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