Reviews: “Annie” and “The Tailor of Gloucester”

I doubt any of the tykes attending the 6th Street Playhouse production of Annie have any idea of its origins as a newspaper comic strip which ran for 86 years. Their exposure undoubtably comes from the 1982 film or its television remakes which all have their genesis from the 1977 Broadway musical. That the show bears little resemblance to the films that followed means nothing to audiences that want to hear “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” or “Tomorrow”. 

Evelyn Goodwin, Larry Williams

Michael Fontaine directs the origin story of how the pluckily optimistic Annie (Evelyn Goodwin alternating with Alina Kingwill Peterson) escapes the clutches of the evil Miss Hannigan (Daniela Innocenti Beem) and wins over the heart of “Daddy” Warbucks (Larry Williams) in depression-era New York.

The show has an upbeat message and is generally well-cast, but it’s stodgily directed, is lacking in production value and the music isn’t particularly well executed. Reliable scene-stealer Dani Beem may have met her match in young Grace Martin, who plays Molly. The show really comes alive when they take the stage.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★

‘Annie’ runs through Dec. 22 at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth St. Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2pm. $22–$35. 707.523.41856thstreetplayhouse.com

Photos by Eric Chazankin

The Spreckels Theatre Company is presenting The Tailor of Gloucester, an original musical based on the children’s book by Beatrix Potter. Written by local composer-musician Janis Dunson Wilson with lyrics and book by the late Marcy Telles, it was originally commissioned in 2004 by Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater for its youth theater program.

Zane Walters

The story of an 18th century English tailor (Craig Bainbridge) who falls ill and is unable to finish the mayor’s fine Christmas Day wedding coat without the help of a few house mice has long been a children’s favorite. This version adheres pretty closely to the story with additional characters and musical numbers added.

While this Michael Ross-directed production casts adults in most roles, it still belies its youth theater roots. There isn’t a lot here for the older crowd, other than pondering the anachronisms and story inconsistencies that will fly over most kids’ heads while they enjoy the talking and singing cats and mice.

The cast is in good voice, though. There’s really cute work by the kids who play the mice (Francesca & Victoria Antonini, Mario Hererra), and the adults do their best with the threadbare material.

If your younger one is still enchanted by the magic of books, this may be a nice holiday treat.

Rating (out of 5): ★★½

‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ runs through Dec. 16 at Spreckels Performing Arts Center. 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Times and dates vary. $18–$36. 707.588.3400. spreckelsonline.com

Photos by Jeff Thomas

These reviews originally appeared in edited versions in the North Bay Bohemian.

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