Up & Coming Weekly

February 05, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 11 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEBRUARY 6-12, 2019 UCW 11 Robert Newman as Daddy Warbucks; Zoi Pegues as Annie From Mary Kate Burke's soft rock introduction to the final curtain, the opening night performance of Cape Fear Regional eater's production of "Annie" was nothing short of spec- tacular, often drawing cheers from the full house. With the book by omas Meehan, lyrics by Martin Charmin, music by Charles Strouse and a setting in the midst of the Great Depression, the ad- ventures of a young orphan in search of her parents touches on a theme still relevant today. e contrast between Hooverville, where Annie takes refuge, and her life as a guest in Oliver Warbucks' mansion emphasizes the vast gap between the very rich and the majority of citizens just struggling to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Yet, despite the dire circumstances in which the musical is set, the message of "Annie" is hope. e Orphan Ensemble captivates from the very beginning. Lily Hogge, playing the title role, has an amazing vocal range for such a young girl. She plays Annie with tomboy-ish enthusiasm and transitions seamlessly from wistfulness to defiance to winsome- ness as the situation demands. anks to the orphans, the mood never descends to pathos. eir superb rendition of "It's the Hard Knock Life" and subsequent heckling of Miss Hannigan convince the audience these are resilient little girls determined not to let the circumstances of their lives break them. Erin Fish's Miss Hannigan, a role she played on the national tour, is the villainess we all love to hate. Yet there is a certain upbeat cheerfulness to her chicanery. Fish plays Miss Hannigan for laughs, of which there are plenty, which allows the audience to see her as overwhelmed by all the little girls in her charge, rather than evil. Greg King, as Rooster Hannigan, and Jodi Bluestein, as Lily St. Regis, ooze a greasy, bumbling, minor crimi- nality from the first moment they set foot onstage. Not to put too fine a point on it, but their "Easy Street" number reminds us of why we really play the lottery. Robert Newman's character transitions believably from the gruff, enormously rich and influential Oliver Warbucks to the openly affectionate "Daddy." is is in large part due to Newman's seeming lack of celebrity ego and to the positive onstage chemistry between Newman and his young co-star. Newman is believable as a successful, no-nonsense businessman with time for little but work when we first meet his character. We watch him mellowing before our eyes as his character goes from bellowing his disgust at President Roosevelt to humbly asking for the president's help on Annie's behalf. Finally, we watch him opening himself to the charms of his winsome assistant, played by Becca Vourvoulas, and expressing completely believable affection for Annie. Newman brings star power to Fayetteville, having appeared for 28 seasons as Joshua Lewis on the long- running TV program "Guiding Light" among many of his stage, film and television credits. Yet there was no sense of his celebrity status evident onstage at CFRT on open- ing night. He is a generous actor. He commanded the stage when appropriate to his character and managed to be just another member of the cast whenever the script called for some other character to take center stage. Newman, Fish and Hogge are supported by a cast of talented actors, a few of whom appeared for the first time at CFRT on opening night. Artistic direction for all CFRT productions is pro- vided by Mary Kate Burke. "Annie" is ably directed and choreographed by Robin Levine, assisted by Sebastiani Romagnolo. Both the set, designed by Charles Glenn Johnson, and the costumes, designed by Sarah Harris, are simple yet evocative of the era in which the musical is staged. Musical direction is supplied by Jillian K. Zack. e orchestra is superb, taking care to enhance rather than overwhelm young voices. "Annie" runs through the evening performance on Sunday, Feb. 24, with a special Sensory Friendly per- formance scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10. Contact the CFRT Box Office at 910-323-4233 Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m. for more information and ticket prices. Review: Cape Fear Regional Theatre's 'Annie' is fantastic by PRUDENCE MAINOR EVENT THANK YOU for Sponsoring LIBERTY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY'S Flow Mazda of Fayetteville, NC Advanced Fiber Network of Fayetteville, NC All Signs Graphics of Fayetteville, NC American Fabricators & Piping of Laurinburg, NC Feed The Need Campaign PRUDENCE MAINOR, Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com 910-484-6200.

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