Andie Belkoff and Christiana Anbri will share the role of Annie, the little red-haired orphan who, at the end of the smash 1977 musical, looks forward to a life with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. In the 1993 sequel by the same authors — composer Charles Strouse, lyricist Martin Charnin and librettist Thomas Meehan — the adoption of Annie is blocked by the venal Commissioner of Child Welfare, who says New York law won't allow an unmarried Warbucks to raise a child.
Mary Martello plays Sheila Kelly, the leading contender for the role of wife, leaving Bodnar's Grace Farrell (Warbucks' secretary) out in the cold. Annie, also feeling left out, runs away from home and inadvertently ends up helping create the Tennessee Valley Authority in the fancifully-revisionist Depression-era musical comedy.
Alene Robertson, who created the role of Commissioner Doyle in the original New York production — and is heard on the out-of-print cast album — will play the meddling bureaucrat at Walnut Street.
Annie Warbucks opens Sept. 15. The company also includes Bobby Abdoo, Gillian Burke, Don Burroughs, Lee Golden, Derric Harris, Mollie Hall, Katie O'Shaughnessey, Patrick Pettys, Joyce A. Presutti, Nicholas F. Saverine and Dan Schiff.
Ashlee Keating and Arianna Claire Vogel, who shared the role of Annie last season, are returning to share the role of Pepper. The rest of the children in the cast are Meredith Lipson, Carly Hawkins, Sami Christmann, Karalyn Hutton, Kaiya Coursey, Taylor Bright, Kristina Biddle and Gina Santare.
Charles Abbott directs. Mary Jane Houdina choreographs. Music and vocal direction are by Sherman Frank. Designers are Charles S. Kading (set), Colleen McMillan (costume), Jeffrey S. Koger (lighting) and Marc Kaplan (sound).
Tickets range from $10-$65. For tickets and information, call (215) 574-3550 or visit Walnut's website at www.wstonline.org.
Although the Annie sequel ran 200 performances Off-Broadway, October 1993-January 1994, and a cast recording was released on the Angel label, it is not a widely-known property. Because its profile has remained somewhat low, the show is thought by some to be inferior, though fans regard the story and score as strong as the original. It was thought the show might leap to Broadway in 1994, but a move never happened.
The story picks up right where Annie leaves off, with Daddy Warbucks getting bad news from New York City Commissioner Doyle (a lady villain in the tradition of Miss Hannigan). Turns out he can't adopt Annie unless he gets married. Luckily, Doyle's secretary, a survivor named Mrs. Kelly, is available.
The usual suspects — Annie's orphan pals, Drake, Mrs. Pugh, FDR, Sandy — are again part of the show.
Recognized as the score's standouts are "It Would Have Been Wonderful" (for Grace), "Love" (a ballad that attempts to be the show's central metaphor, as "Tomorrow" was in the original) and a knockout showstopper for Mrs. Kelly called "But You Go On," about her tragic past life. Donna McKechnie originated the Kelly role Off-Broadway, where Harve Presnell played Daddy and (the now college-age) Kathryn Zaremba was Annie.
The 2004-05 Walnut Street season will also include new productions of Cats, Broadway Bound, The Constant Wife and West Side Story.