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ISSIE SWICKLE  as Annie and Dog

ANNIE
Brings Her Glee to S.F.

By Iride Aparicio


Photos by: Joan Marcus

SAN FRANCISCO, CAHave  you ever wonder if the lyrics of a song can affect our feelings? To find out, you need to go no further than to the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, and listen to the song “Tomorrow” interpreted by ISSIE SWICKLE playing the lead role of Annie in the musical by the same name. On Opening Night, when those sitting in the audience heard the song, the whole theatre became a pandemonium: The children, and there were lots of children on that night, screamed with delight, clapping. We, the adults, began singing along with SWICKLE. And as we repeated the lyrics of Annie’s song, we started feeling revitalized, as lite as if  the weight of our worries had been taken away from us. A zip permeated our veins making our hearts beat faster. Suddenly, we felt good, optimistic, filled with hope. And as Annie,  stood next to Sandy, “her dog,” on the stage finishing her song,  and we all sang in chorus:  “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you’re only a day away” we mouthed the words  with glee,  looked around and smiled at each other as if convinced that “tomorrow” things were going to get better for us.

Issie Swickle singing “tomorrow"

Issie Swickle singing “tomorrow”

In this Century of High tech, where musicals try to outdo each other by displaying their technology, their flashing  multi-colored lights, their booming music, or their “four-letters words peppered dialogue, and erotic sex. One needs to  ponder the reason why ANNIE,  a 1977 old-fashioned musical, with Melodious songs (CHARLES STROUSE) poetic lyrics by MARTIN CHARNIN, and a book by THOMAS MEEHAN based in Little Orphan Annie, the character from the  HAROLD GRAY’s cartoon, can  move the audience as it still does.

ISSIE SWICKLE  as Annie &  LILLY MAE STEWART as Molly
 ISSIE SWICKLE  as Annie &  LILLY MAE STEWART as Molly

In the Century of High Tech, the simple story of a an 11 years old girl, who believes that things will get better for her tomorrow,  and waits every day for her parents to come and pick her up from the orphanage where they left her as a baby, still grips our hearts.


Center L-R GILGAMESH TAGGETT and ISSIE SWICKLE
Center L-R GILGAMESH TAGGETT and ISSIE SWICKLE

The TROIKA ENTERTAINMENT, LLC presentation of ANNIE  is perfect. The musical moves smoothly as a movie. The different interior and exterior sets of New York City during the 1930’s are beautiful; one of the best, the one showing a part of fifth avenue and St. Patrick Cathedral. The interior sets, specially the ones showing the house of Warbucks, are really elegant, and the choreography of LIZA GENNARO, enhanced the show.

As director, MARTIN CHARNIN managed to get impeccable acting from every one of his actors. All the parts in the musical, were acted in character. ISSIE SWICKLE’ Annie is full of life, and can to sing well. In her acting, she can display a rainbow of emotions: Tenderness, sadness, happiness, fear, mischief, and love. The singing and dancing of the orphans was marvelous. Excellent also in her role was Miss Hannigan (LYNN ANDREWS) who on that night represented all the nuances her role as villian demands. GILGAMESH TAGGET acted his Warbucks with humanity and charm and sang with a soft mellow voice. Another good impersonation of a character was given by Rooster Hannigan (GARRET DEAGON) and Grace Farrell (Wabucks' secretary) played by ASHLEY EDLER, who sang with a melodious tone of voice. 

But there are many more reasons why the audience loves ANNIE aside from the quality of the show's presentation. One is that we all are able to empathize with Annie, because there is somebody  in everybody's life similar to  Miss Hannigan, who abuses us at work, And if this person does not force us to tell her or him every day: I love you, Miss Hannigan.” he or she manages to make life miserable for us. In every life, there are also those who laugh and make fun of our dreams. And another reason why we may like this story, may be because it  uses “poetic justice,” (with the bad people punished and the good rewarded) so at the end, we cheer for Annie when she gets what she deserved, which she  expressed in the lyrics of her  song “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here.

And if we analize the story of the musical, we realize that it is not a fairy tale. What happened to Annie, may be possible in real life because it is a proven fact that people usually get what they expect because thoughts are very powerful. In this story, in spite of all the bad things happening to Annie, she always thought positively.  and in  the musical, (which takes place during the Depression) the imprtance of thinging possitively is demonstrated when the Cabinet Members of  President’s F.D.R, inspired by Annie start thinking positively about the situation the country is in, and soon after that, they start coming with ideas, they start thinking of solutions, planning different ways to solve the situation. And at the end,  even billionaire Oliver Warbuck learns something from the optimism of Annie: that in spite of all his money, and all the material things he had, "something" was missing in his life.

ANNIE will continue playing until June 14 at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, for tickets information go to: www.shnsf.com .