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[whitespace] 'Tomorrow' Land

'Annie' has always been for the kids

By Heather Zimmerman

WHEN I WAS 8 YEARS OLD, I adored Annie--the play, the movie, all of it--so I pretty much knew that going to see Annie, the season opener at American Musical Theatre of San Jose, couldn't live up to my childhood worship of the play, no matter how good the production. And I was right. Songs like "Maybe" and the well-known "Tomorrow" have an almost awful sugariness about them I hadn't noticed before, even though it turns out that I still know all the lyrics and probably always will. In fact, I know I would still love Annie if I were 8. With its courageous and optimistic young heroine, the play's appeal for children is undeniable, and this is the kind of production--colorful, lavish and fun--that helps to create a new generation of theatergoers (and perhaps, God forbid, theater critics).

AMT seems assured of snaring some young fans with this textbook cute, almost campy, production. Sally Struthers' performance is geared for giggles from the younger audience members, and it works. She hams it up something fierce as the villainous Miss Hannigan, the hard-drinking headmistress of the orphanage. Joe Vincent is the quintessential Daddy Warbucks, gruff and grudgingly paternal. As Annie, Britney Caughell has a strong voice and a charming stage presence. Annie's fellow orphans show considerable talent as an ensemble. Overall, AMT pulls off an excellent production. The dog playing Sandy flubbed some of his cues, but he was positively adorable, so who cares? In fact, that lovable doggy inspired precisely that mix of compassion and pathos that Annie so expertly manipulates--it's just more fun when you're too young to know it.

Annie plays Tuesday-Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm, Sunday at 2 and 7pm at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose. Tickets are $40-$55 (888.455.SHOW)

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From the November 4-10, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. MetroActive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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