Playbill Staff Recalls Cherished Holiday Theatre Memories

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24 Dec 2012

KENNETH JONES, Managing Editor of Playbill.com

My widowed Aunt Rose and Aunt Mary, on my mother's side, used to send my parents money for Christmas. In 1978, my folks had the wisdom to buy tickets to the first national tour of the musical Annie, and we attended the show at the Nederlanders' flagship Detroit venue, the Fisher Theatre, the day after Christmas that year. Ruth Kobart (the original Miss Jones of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the original Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) was a very funny Miss Hannigan. There was a dog on stage! Kids sang! The show's setting was Christmastime! The actors moved on conveyor belts! The Times Square scenery was animated! I still have the program, and the souvenir program. Through my childhood eyes, I never knew such lavishness was possible on stage, or that stories could be told with such ambition, humor and musicality. I would mature to have a passion for the emotional complexity of the musicals of Stephen Sondheim, but I was lucky to learn about the basics of musical theatre craft from Martin Charnin, Thomas Meehan and Charles Strouse, the writers of Annie, who kept things simple and direct; oh, I get it — characters have "I-want" songs and "this-is-who-I-am" songs! Annie, now on Broadway in a revival, remains a perfect way for kids to be introduced to the theatre. I will always think of the joy of Christmas as synonymous with the joy of going to the theatre. My family gave me a wonderful gift.



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