‘Annie’ shines at Dutch Apple

By on July 2, 2019

The orphans from “Annie,” pictured from the left, Paige Fairbanks as Tessie, Emily Beckman as Duffy, Grace Signor as Holly, Piper Sobon as Annie, Raya Samuel as Nora, Scarlett Meyer as Molly, Olivia Eichler as Pepper, Abby Leiboff as Kate and Julie Eshenauer as Holly.

At the tender age of nine, I remember going to see the 1982 theatrical version of “Annie” on the big screen starring Aileen Quinn and Albert Finney.

I loved it.

As far as I can remember, it was my very first exposure to a musical and the love of this artform has stayed with me ever since. And most likely, I have “Annie” to thank for that.

So when I had the opportunity to review “Annie” on opening night at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster, I jumped at the chance, especially since it would be my first time taking in a show there.

The food

We attended on a Thursday evening, and on that night, guests order from a menu instead of eating offerings from the buffet. Since this was my very first trip to Dutch Apple, I really appreciated the table service, as I had the opportunity to take my time and really savor each course.

First out was savory chicken asparagus corn chowder, which tasted great and seemed to be homemade. Next came a cool, crisp, Caesar salad and a small loaf of French bread. While there were several main entrees to choose from, I selected the prime rib, which also arrived with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Then next came the desserts. Because I had a guest with me, we made sure they were different. She ordered the blueberry cheesecake (excellent!); while I ordered the Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake, which was rich, sweet and decadent.

Our waitress was also friendly, prompt, and very knowledgeable.

Victor Legarreta as Daddy Warbucks and Piper Sobon as Annie.

The show

So what can be said about the show that hasn’t already been said? Plenty!

Piper Sobon of Lititz stars in the lead role of the orphan who gets the chance of a lifetime in 1933 by having the opportunity to spend Christmas in New York City with billionaire Oliver Warbucks.

But when Annie declares that all she wants for Christmas is to locate her real parents, a nationwide search, funded by Warbucks, gets quickly underway.

The stage version is based on the “Little Orphan Annie,” cartoons, with a book by Thomas Meehan and music by Charles Strouse.

Sobon, of Lititz, is an absolute natural on stage and perfectly cast. She’s confident, but also has just the right amount of spunk. She’s also motherly to the orphans, and not afraid to “put up her dukes” when danger presents itself.

Whether its sitting it on one of FDR’s cabinet meetings, or trying to cheer up the poor and homeless occupants of Hooverville, Annie always remains optimistic, even through the most trying of times.

Sobon especially soars during the beloved “Tomorrow,” and while leading the adorable orphans in “It’s the Hard Knock Life.”

And Victor Legarreta as Oliver Warbucks is no slouch either. Early on, he portrays the fatherly figure with just enough arrogance; yet, comes to be loved when Annie wins his heart.

Although not talked about enough, at its core, “Annie” the musical is also a love letter to the 1930s.

There’s references to historical icons like Chiang Kai-shek, Babe Ruth, and Harpo Marx. Not to mention The Big Apple itself almost plays a character in the show.

Something must also be said about the live orchestra, that did an outstanding job with great music. One of the great things about Dutch Apple is that there’s not a bad seat in the house.

I recommend checking out “Annie,” even if you’ve seen it before. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it all over again, and perhaps even find something new to appreciate.

The show runs through Aug. 10. To order tickets, visit dutchapple.com.

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423.

Piper Sobon of Lititz plays Annie in the production.

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