So I’ve outlined all of this reviewer methodology stuff, which may just be blah blah blah to anybody who’s still reading out there. But now I’ll get back to the thing that prompted all of this, a specific application of the general methodology.
There were aspects of “Annie” that I had problems with. Things that at first seemed worthy of some pointed critical comments in a review. Not to get all Simon Cowell on y’all but at least at the show I attended, there were some vocal issues, some deliveries that were “pitchy” as it were. I love Mr. Bass like a brother but there was a bit of sing-speaking through his songs. And bless her totally adorable little heart but Ms. Day did not nail “Tomorrow.” In fact, I can’t judge because I’ve only seen the show all the way through once but it may be a stretch for her to ever really belt “Tomorrow” because of her range. Push it too hard and too far up into that head voice and things will go flat for even the best singer.
But in songs that seemed more solidly in her range, she was awesome. “Maybe” was enchanting. And Mr. Bass was an exceptional Warbucks in every other way; in fact, I can’t imagine another actor in town off hand that could have done as good a job.
So when I sat down to write the review, I had a choice. I could be brutally and somewhat capriciously critical, pointing out issues that were real and likely ongoing with the production. But I stepped back a little and looked at the big picture. This production is exceptional in a whole bunch of ways. The technical aspects are impeccable and the ensemble as a whole is just fantastic. And if I’m not mistaken, I believe Ms. Arthur trimmed a bit out of the show or somehow worked some magic to make the second act – which has a tendency to drag in other productions I’ve seen – motor right along.
I realized that if I had an unlimited number of column inches to spend writing about this “Annie,” the number of positive aspects of the show would outnumber the negative at least 8 to 1. I’d have to work through the mesmerizing vocals of the Boylan Sisters (Alia Bisharat, Annie Steingold, and Robin Harris-Jones), the truly inventive choreography of ensemble scenes like the Hooverville number, and the fine FDR portrayal by Michael Hawke before I could even get around to Maggie Roop’s shapely legs. Though I appreciate “Annie,” it may not even make the top 10 of my favorite musicals. But this production prompted that singular “wild card” experience of leaving the theater smiling, humming the songs and generally feeling pretty darn good about life.
So, given the preponderance of the evidence, as it were, I figured it would be downright churlish (that one’s for you, Mr. Hamm) to spend any of my 300 words pointing out the few issues with a production that was so good in so many other ways. By following the formula, the negatives pretty much got pushed aside. It’s not like I didn’t notice them, they just didn’t make the cut.