New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

‘Annie’ musical loses her spark in Broadway revival

Just in time for the holiday season, America’s favorite inspirational, curly-haired orphan is making a reappearance on Broadway — and she has a lot to live up to.

Expectations are high as the audience members take their seats, with enthusiastic children littered throughout the theater. Their enthusiasm is contagious, a feeling that only strengthens as the orchestra opens with a powerful brass medley before the curtain, made of hanging laundry, rises to reveal the cleverly crafted one-dimensional set.

But the feeling of awe and childlike giddiness does not last for very long. There is no denying that this Annie (Lilla Crawford) is a vocal powerhouse. With a strong, commanding voice that was made to be showcased Crawford will doubtless be an excellent professional singer one day, but her performance as Annie is a bit like the set: one dimensional.

Without this needed depth, the fiery child that we know and love appears to lose some of her human characteristics, instead becoming a simple allegory for optimism and perseverance. The confusing and often stationary choreography does not help Crawford’s performance in the slightest.

“Tomorrow,” a song meant to inspire characters stuck in an economic situation not too far removed from our own, does not carry quite the same meaning when a little girl simply belts out the words while standing center-stage.

But there are several redeeming factors in this revival. Anthony Warlow, who makes his Broadway debut as the wealthy Warbucks, brings a lovely vulnerability to the billionaire tycoon, even if he does look a bit too young for the part.

And Katie Finneran’s interpretation of the villain Miss Hannigan brings a new and intriguing way of viewing the wicked orphanage owner. In her cabaret-esque version of “Little Girls,” Hannigan sounds exactly like the single-faceted villain of the show, but her eyes tell a different story. Her face, etched with desperation and a bit of insanity, hints that maybe Finneran’s Hannigan is not just an evil mistress — she may actually be insane. This interesting interpretation adds a nice shade of ambiguity to the show, hinting that everything may not be as black-and-white as it has always appeared.

The true shining star of this “Annie,” however, is little Molly (Emily Rosenfeld). Rosenfeld, the youngest cast member, easily steals the show from her talented and more experienced counterparts. With genius comedic timing and a sly attitude that puts Annie’s to shame, Rosenfeld shows a raw potential that has the power to pull this show from its brash, emotionless rut.

“Annie” is now playing an open run at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. For tickets and more information, see

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 27 print edition. Mackenzie Cash is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected].

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