‘Annie’ Shines at Academy Of Performing Arts

by Melissa De La Vega

Leaping Lizards! What a way to kick off the 2024 Spring season at the Academy Playhouse in Orleans! The timeless, beloved musical “Annie” opened March 21 to a sold-out audience excited to hear the songs, see the orphans, catch a glimpse of Sandy the Dog and watch the show that countless local actors and crew spent hours and hours preparing for over the past few months. You can bet your bottom dollar, this production of “Annie” does not disappoint!

With music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and based on the book “Little Orphan Annie” by Thomas Meehan, “Annie” the musical is directed at APA by Terrence Brady and Jennifer Almeida. Almeida wears several hats in this production, including the vocal coach for the kids in the show and also the role of Grace Ferrell. Featuring Music Director Chris Morris, all of the famous tunes in “Annie” will have you smiling from ear to ear: “Maybe,” “Hard Knock Life,” “Tomorrow,” “Little Girls,” and “Fully Dressed” just to name a few.

The title role of Annie is a big character to play and these actors sure do deliver. Annie is shared by two delightfully talented young ladies, Mia Nadeau and Zoey MacBride, who take turns performing the role every other night and belting out the songs and script wonderfully. Supporting this role is Randy Doyle who was brilliantly cast as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. Doyle not only looks the part of Warbucks flawlessly, but oozes with charisma and a lovable personality. Stealing the limelight and getting lots of love from the crowd was the sweet and extremely talented pup, Aly Hamer, who played the role of Sandy the dog.

Playing the notorious Miss Hannigan is no small feat for any actor, so it’s no surprise that the marvelous, phenomenally funny Denise Page was cast for the part. She defines laugh-out-loud hilarity in this role and her comedic timing is sheer perfection. Backing her up are APA veterans, Missy Potash as the sly Lily St. Regis and DJ Kostka as conniving Rooster. This trio’s incredibly entertaining “Easy Street” number was riotous and super memorable.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, the orphans in “Annie” are simply adorable. They truly make the show and there are more than a dozen of them. One of the lead standout orphans, Molly, is full of sass and spunk and she is a shared role between two young actors, Cora Goers and Sylvie Weimer. The remaining orphans are all varied in ages and all bring a wealth of talent and darling charm to their roles: Fiona Mooney (Kate), Chiara Castro (July), Layla LaBonte (Pepper), Gabi Castro (Tessie), Hazel Yingling (Duffy), and the orphan ensemble: Finley Smith, Alison Long, Evangeline Bonwit, Annie Strangfeld, Samantha Kelley and Abigail Avery.

Three stunning young actors with amazing voices — Esme Van Buskirk, Alison Long and Etta Parks — play the Boylan sisters: Bonnie, Ronnie and Connie, who belt out “Fully Dressed” along with Bert Healy played by Ryan Van Buskirk. Adding to the fantastic multi-generational cast are Tim Burroughs (Drake/Officer Ward), Kevin Kenneally (Mr. Bundles/President Roosevelt), Lucas Almeida (Judge Brandeis), Erin Walsh (Star to Be) and dog catchers Ben Bearse and Andrew Tobin. Rounding out the cast are the magnificent actors playing in the ensemble: Keren Castro, Raye Doyle, Dale Johnson, Charlie Tobin, Sam Bonwit, Susan Heinze, Violet Skinner, Lizzy Smythe, Maddie Hilley, Gus Van Buskirk, Andrew Breda, Suzanne Fecteau, Justin McGee and Molly Davol.

The Academy Playhouse continues to impress show after show and “Annie” is no exception. You won’t want to wait for the sun to come out tomorrow to score tickets to “Annie.”



At the Academy Of Performing Arts, Main Street, Orleans

Through April 7, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

Information and tickets: 508-255-1963, academyplayhouse.org