INDIANAPOLIS — When you’re stuck with a day that’s gray and lonely, there’s nothing quite as uplifting as the familiar refrains of “Tomorrow.”
And you’re sure to stick out your chin and grin when you hear the classic tune in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s latest production.
“Annie” is on stage through July 15 and serves as the season’s family show. There’s even a $10 Family Show discount off tickets for children ages 3-15.
The story should be very familiar to most. After all, Little Orphan Annie has been around since 1885, when she first appeared in a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. That poem inspired a 1920s Chicago Tribune comic strip by Harold Gray. Then came a 1977 debut on Broadway and features films in 1982, 1999 and 2014.
The musical version is set in 1933 when America is the grips of the Great Depression. It centers on Annie, an orphan in New York City who was left on the doorstep of an orphanage with half a locket and a note from her parents promising to return for her.
Annie, portrayed by Zionsville Middle School soon-to-be sixth-grader Claire Kauffman, lives the hard knock life under the heel of Miss Hannigan’s boot until a bit of luck finds Annie living the high life with billionaire Oliver Warbucks just a week before Christmas. Annie’s hard-won optimism and kindness melt the tycoon’s heart, changing both their lives forever.
Kauffman captures both Annie’s wit and charm with ease, all while showing she’s got the pipes to pull off the musical numbers. She’s particularly impressive in the musical’s top number, “Tomorrow.” Everyone in the audience couldn’t help but sing along.
Ty Stover reprises his role as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, with a gruff and tough yet tender touch. Bobbi Bates imbues Grace Farrell with a gentle kindness. John Vessels’ perfect timing and dry wit as Drake drew quite a few laughs. And Jeff Stockberger is perfectly creepy and conniving as Rooster.
The real show-stealer here, however, is Kelly Teal Goyette. Without a good Miss Hannigan, you can’t have a good production of “Annie.” Beef & Boards has a great one in Goyette. From the physical comedy to musical numbers, she nails the bitter, lovelorn spirit of the orphanage’s head mistress. “Little Girls” is undeniably one of the best parts of the show.
So, too, are the actual little girls in the production. Annie’s fellow orphans – Bridget Bingham (Tessie), Sadie Cohen (Ruby), Macy Franklin (Kate), Kynden Luster (July), Sylvie Templet (Molly), Anna Wagner (Pepper) and Aliva Rose Williams (Duffy) – open the show with a bang with “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” And you can see their (probably actual) joy in the shenanigans they play on Miss Hannigan.
One thing to note: You’ll want to keep your ears open for the additional musical numbers “NYC” and “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover,” which don’t appear in the classic feature film. They’re some of the highlights of the show.
And you can bet your bottom dollar that taking in this production will be a highlight of your summer.
Tickets range from $44 to $69 and include a family-friendly version of the dinner buffet. For reservations, call the box office at 317-872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. For a complete show schedule, visit beefandboards.com.
If you go
What: “Annie” the musical
Where: Beef & Board Dinner Theatre, 9301 Michigan Road, Indianapolis
Tickets: Call 317-872-9664