“The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”
Could there be a more perfect start to a song?
The sweet optimism of little orphan Annie (who has every right to be jaded and cynical but somehow remains full of sunshine) is as irresistible to me today as it was when I first watched the movie and musical as a child. The latest production of Annie at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, on stage through July 15, left my little group of fans smiling and believing that “tomorrow, there’ll be sun.”
There are too many lovable moments to list, but here are my top five:
1. A Rock Star Redhead
Annie is a TOUGH role for any performer, and 12-year-old Claire Kauffman absolutely owned it. Her pure, solid voice made the tough high notes sound effortless, and I was impressed with her acting and character choices, especially the way she connected with Daddy Warbucks. Claire just completed fifth grade at Zionsville Middle School. On our way out of the theatre, I congratulated this little star on an amazing performance in what is certain to be a LONG theatre career!
2. A Dream Cast
Kudos to Beef & Boards for pulling together a dream team cast of veterans for this production. Nearly everyone on stage has been in shows here for decades, and their cumulative talent and professionalism makes the show sizzle. Ty Stover brought tears to my eyes with his portrayal of Oliver Warbucks. (My 8-year-old daughter said his big sentimental song, “Something Was Missing,” was her favorite Daddy Warbucks moment in the show, and I have to agree – he got me right in the heart!) This is the fourth consecutive time Ty has played this role at Beef & Boards. Just like last time, I was stunned by his strong, beautiful voice, his nuanced acting and his ability to make an arrogant billionaire lovable. Returning from the 2009 production to reprise their roles were Bobbi Bates as Grace Farrell, Jeff Stockberger as Rooster, and John Vessels as Drake. Kelly Teal Goyette, most recently seen as Mrs. Santiago in Ghost, the Musical, and Dragon in Shrek, the Musical, lent her impressive pipes to the role of Miss Hannigan, and my insanely talented amiga Deb Wims returned to Indianapolis to play Lily St. Regis. (Congrats, Deb, on earning the title of my VERY favorite “dumb hotel.”)
3. Drake, the Butler
Even if you don’t like cute orphans or musicals, I say you should still go see this show just to appreciate the comedic timing of John Vessels. Seriously. My family absolutely couldn’t get enough. Johnny V., I love how much you add to every single role you take on! (Have I said that too many times by now?) Seeing Drake the stuffy butler burst into one shockingly delighted high skip, then resuming his deadpan serious strut one second later, was just unforgettable. (In fact, I know a certain little girl who kept trying to imitate it during breakfast today…the sincerest form of flattery!)
4. A Tiny Orphan with BIG Personality
I could not take my eyes off little Sylvie Templet as Molly, the youngest orphan. I’ve known Sylvie since she was tiny. Sylvie has basically grown up at the theatre since her mom, talented pianist Kristy Templet, is part of the Beef & Boards orchestra. This was Sylvie’s Beef & Boards debut, and she could not have been cuter with her pigtails, glasses and attitude! She got a ton of laughs and looked like she was having the time of her life. I know what a dream it is for a kid to get their first big role. I can’t wait to see what’s next for her!
5. White House Magic
The iconic song “Tomorrow” is incredibly powerful when Annie belts it out on stage with her adorable dog, Sandy, but even more so when she joins FDR and his cabinet members in the White House for a reprise. Their strong voices locking into harmony gave me chills. More than anything, what got to me is the idea of a little girl using her voice to inspire discouraged government officials to dream bigger and persevere through difficult times. (Come to think of it, can we send Annie to D.C. and just see what happens?)
Whatever is clouding your life at the moment, there’s a good chance that when that “sun comes out” on stage, your worries will melt away for a few hours. Congrats to the cast on a show worthy of many tomorrows!
Beef & Boards presents Annie as its 2018 Family Show, offering $10 discounts off tickets for all children ages 3-15. Tickets also include Chef Odell Ward’s family-friendly dinner buffet. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For complete show schedule, visit beefandboards.com.
Trisha Shepherd is the Marketing Communications Manager for Riley Children’s Foundation in Indianapolis and a freelance writer for Midwest Parenting Publication. Trisha joined the nonprofit world in 2011 after working for 15 years as a television news journalist. Her memoir, “Know When to Run: Lessons from the Diary of a Gen X Mom,” documents her final year in the television business and her decision to make the leap into a more balanced life. Trisha’s anchoring and reporting work at WCIA, WHOTV, and WRTV earned her two Associated Press awards and two Illinois Broadcasters’ Association awards. She pioneered a series of “Generation X Moms” television and web reports through WHOTV in Des Moines, Iowa and wrote popular blogs on whotv.com and theindychannel.com. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., with a B.A. in Communications, Media and Theatre and a minor in Spanish.