REVIEW: Celebrating their 70th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre delivers a feel good family favorite with ‘Annie’

Generations have grown up with some version of little orphan Annie and her trusty dog Sandy who meets billionaire tycoon Oliver Warbucks during Depression-era New York.  It is a classic family tale for all ages with the eternal promise that no matter what happens, there is always hope.  As the intimate, sweet-sounding orchestra chimed its first triumphant, horn-infused notes of the overture highlighting song snippets of It’s a Hard Knock LifeFully Dressed, and TomorrowHingham Civic Music Theatre (HCMT) proves this steadfast musical favorite never goes out of style.

To cap off their 70th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre brings back this beloved musical to an almost sold-out audience so try to capture the last few tickets now.  Directed and choreographed by Nathan Fogg and musically directed by Sandee Brayton, Annie continues through Sunday, November 10 at Hingham Town Hall located at 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Annie NYC

Abby Tondorf as Annie, Rob Buckel-Gillis as Oliver Warbucks, Sara Daly as Grace Farrell and the cast in the Big City Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

What is such fun about Annie is although the story remains the same, there is always room to perform it a little differently each time.  Having seen the beloved 1982 film adaptation featuring a brilliant cast including Tim Curry, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Aileen Quinn, and Albert Finney, it is easy to forget the stage musical version sticks to the storyline for the most part, but also contains additional songs.

A group of homeless New Yorkers offer a spirited version of Hooverville, which dials into social injustices during the Great Depression.  Rob Buckel-Gillis as dapper, tough-minded tycoon Oliver Warbucks pays tribute to the Big City with N.Y.C. before later performing a touching rendition of Why Would I Change a Thing.  These are just a few of the additional songs included in the stage version of the musical.

Annie I think you're gonna like it here

Abby Tondorf as Annie, Sara Daly as Grace Farrell as Grace, and the cast singing ‘I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here’  Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

From wealthy city shoppers to house staff to government officials including President Roosevelt to the amazing Rockettes and even Santa, the delightful ensemble cast seamlessly enhances the lighthearted atmosphere of this production.  For example, before the famous number, Be Our Guest from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast existed, I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here offers its own set of accommodations as the house staff warmly introduce Annie to Oliver Warbucks’s mansion.

Enhanced by a few impressive stunts, the orphans skillfully navigate the memorable number, It’s a Hard Knock Life as the orphans mourn their life in the orphanage with Miss Hannigan.  The orphans’ version of Fully Dressed is adorable and sure to make you smile.

Annie - It's a Hard Knock Life

‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ number Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Donning a red bob haircut tied with a scarf, Abby Tondorf delivers spunky charm as Annie, her silvery vocals strongest during the numbers I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here and her signature song, Tomorrow.   She shares some endearing moments with Rob Buckel-Gillis as Daddy Warbucks.  Along with her trusty dog Sandy who is a ringer for the dog in other adaptations, the two of them make a sweet pair.

Having made her last appearance as the Dragon in HCMT’s Shrek, Debby Rawson Stratton sinks her teeth into this fiery role as sarcastic and snarky Miss Hannigan.  Wearing a purple silk robe over a green nightgown with frazzled red hair, Debby makes the role her own with sharp, comic timing and a vocal belting quality never better than during the hilarious number, Little Girls.  Aaron Stolicker as Rooster and Whitney Lloyd as Lily St. Regis make an amusing, sleazy pair.

Sara Daly charmingly depicts elegant Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbucks’s levelheaded secretary.  Daly participates in a frequent battle of wills with Debby Rawson Stratton as Miss Hannigan and their smug verbal exchanges are hilarious.

Annie Christmas photo

The cast of ‘Annie’ Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Don’t wait for tomorrow to get the remaining tickets to Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s musical, Annie, a classic family show with an timeless message about never giving up.  Annie continues through Sunday, November 10 at Hingham Town Hall located at 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.  Follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook for updates and more.

REVIEW: Beneath its potent calculations, Flat Earth Theatre’s ‘Delicate Particle Logic’ is a compelling love story

Flat Earth Theatre’s Delicate Particle Logic by Jennifer Blackmer pays an unforgettable visit into the complex mind of the wife of Noble Peace prize recipient and renowned German chemist Otto Hahn, artist Edith Hahn.  Multilayered in its telling with an interactive flair, this intriguing play takes a look back at three distinctive individuals that historically impacted the world during World War II, rooted in its intrinsic connection between art, science, logic, and love.

With sign language interpreters on scene on Oct 13, Flat Earth Theatre’s Delicate Particle Logic continues at the Black Box Theatre in the Mosesian Center for the Arts through Saturday, October 13.  The Mosesian Center for the Arts boasts free parking, general admission, and not a bad seat in Black Box’s half moon staging. Click here for more information and tickets.

Boasting recitations of the periodic table and a script with scientific verbiage that must have at times challenged this talented group, Delicate Particle Logic is a dark, emotional, thought-provoking, historical drama as renowned physicist and Otto Hahn’s work partner, Lise Meitner visits Edith Hahn as they recall their part in a significant era in World War II history.  With its share of surprising breakthroughs and revelations, it is a multilayered perspective on science, logic, art, and its driving force – love.

DPL - Otto, Edith, and Lise

From L to R: Thomas Grenon as Otto, Barbara Douglass as Edith and Christine Power as Lise Meitner Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre

With blond braided hair and a voice rich in inquisitive charm, Barbara Douglass as uninspired, complicated artist Edith Hahn is the emotional core of the piece.  Douglass reveals her naiveté and warmth with a wide-eyed perspective as Lise and Edith recall the momentous events that ultimately lead to the Atom Bomb.  Edith’s bursts of creative energy tying into Christine A Banna’s Projection Design and PJ Strachman’s lighting design work well together to launch some exciting, yet haunting moments.  As passionate and she is moody, Douglass’s passionate performance as Edith is a particular highlight.

Christine Power exudes a veiled, cold practicality as physicist and Otto Hahn’s “work wife” Lise Meitner.  As serious as she is shrewd, Lise is at times determined beyond reason, but with an emotional attachment to her work that makes her willing to sacrifice everything for it.  With a tight bun secured in her hair and a simple dress, she rarely lets herself see beyond the next calculation.  As Edith observes, “Lise wants to give herself to science while men want to conquer it.”

DPL Lise and Otto

Christine Power as Lise and Thomas Grenon as Otto Hahn at work Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre

In a full suit and tweed jacket, Thomas Grenon portrays serious and stern father of nuclear chemistry, Otto Hahn.  Grenon skillfully depicts Otto’s enigmatic personality under two contradicting perspectives as an unrelenting, meticulous perfectionist and a smitten, caring husband.

Portraying multiple roles from a scientist to a soldier to a nephew and a few between, chorus members Matt Arnold and Michael Lin slide into each of their roles with easy-to- follow, distinct subtlety.

Directed by Betsy S. Goldman, Delicate Particle Logic by Jennifer Blackmer continues at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown, Massachusetts through Saturday, October 13.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Partially surrounded by a lush green lawn that gives it a campus feel, The Mosesian Center for the Arts houses a number of productions and exhibits during the year.  Offering free parking and set next to Panera Bread, current exhibitions include a Member Exhibition and Levon Parion Photographs.  The Improbable Players presents A Restaging of the End of the Line on October 17 for free.  Some other highlights include Watertown Children’s Theatre’s 35th Anniversary Celebration There’s No Place Like Home and Upstage Lung Cancer’s annual fundraiser, Barbra, Bette, and Bernadette hosted by Arts and Entertainment critic, Joyce Kulhawik.  Click here to see all that Mosesian Center for the Arts has to offer.