Every time I take my daughter (now 5) to a production by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, I make sure to ask her what her favorite part was. Usually, when I ask her, she gives me a new reason to be concerned. This weekend was no exception. When I asked her favorite part of “Annie Jr,” her response was, “I like when they try to take $50,000 from Daddy Warbucks.” If you’re not lucky enough to be raising a budding young con artist, don’t worry. This show has plenty for everyone to enjoy.
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is truly a gem in the Queen City’s crown. The value of being able to take young children to high-caliber theater that is tailored for their attention span can’t be overstated. High production value, a manageable run time and great performances combine for a winning formula. Diana Hutchinson, the 14-year-old Walnut Hills High School freshman, is particularly impressive as the title character. She brings charm and charisma to the role — and that’s not even mentioning her outstanding vocals.
In fact, all the girls from the orphanage give knockout performances, including the confident, precocious Celia Joy D’Ascenzo as Molly, the youngest of the group. “It’s the Hard Knock Life” was a highlight, with its complicated choreography showing off the ensemble’s coordination and timing. Another highlight, of course, is “Tomorrow.” My daughter’s best friend pointed to that part as her favorite, and it’s hard to disagree. I was surprised, though, that neither of them mentioned the dog. Sandy, Annie’s canine companion, bounded on stage to delighted gasps from everyone in the audience, not just the ones on booster seats.
This production is excellent. When a theater takes on a familiar work without a new interpretation, it’s important to get it all just right. It’s no surprise that The Children’s Theatre managed to do just that. They’ve been at it for 100 years, after all. When I asked my daughter how she liked the show overall, she gave it a stunning endorsement: “It was yummy good. Like you’re eating a cookie yummy.” And sure, she was eating a cookie at the time, but she definitely wasn’t wrong.
Do yourself and your little ones a favor and let Broadway’s favorite curly-headed orphan. You can see it on stage at the Taft Theatre from now through March 9.
Zach Moning is the marketing & communications manager at ArtsWave. Reach him here with questions or comments about ArtsWave Guide.