SCT’S production of ‘Annie’ is heartwarming

Smiles. That’s what every audience member seated in the auditorium of the Salem Community Theatre has on their face the minute a young actor named Gram Zamarelli walks across the stage making his entrance. And you would have to literally be Ebenezer Scrooge himself to not smile as the four-legged Golden Retriever proudly prances across the stage into the arms of an adorable little girl who creates an equal amount of smiles herself.

“Annie” The Musical opened this past Friday at the Salem Community Theatre and warmed the hearts of everyone in attendance.

Directed by Justin Steele, and with choreography by Sarah Kinser, “Annie” tells the story of a young orphan girl who is taken from her orphanage, and from the clutches of the evil “Miss Hannigan,” to stay at billionaire Oliver Warbuck’s mansion for the holidays. When Annie wins the hearts of Warbucks and his staff, they set out on an epic mission to find Annie’s real parents. However Hannigan, along with her brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily, see a chance to cash in on the situation. The stories become intertwined as the lovable Annie’s story hits the national spotlight.

Anna Sophia Viccari will steal your hearts as the title character. Taking on the role of Annie can be a daunting task. Many already have a pre-conceived vision of Annie from viewing it countless times on the silver screen and stage, but Viccari quickly makes the part her own. Her stage presence, adorable personality, and beautiful voice capture the audience. I’m sure more than one audience member just wanted to run on stage and greet her with a giant hug.

Eric Briggs portrays billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Initially he appears a bit young for the part, but he quickly makes you look past that, and his command of the role makes his portrayal believable.

Miss Hannigan is another role which can be difficult for some actresses. Portraying a cruel-heartless villain can be a difficult task. After all, most people don’t go around trying to make people hate them. But Tayler Reed was more than up to the task. She was cruel and heartless without being over the top, and she switched to cunning and conniving flawlessly.

Lily, portrayed by Loghan Talbert, and Reece Xavior as Rooster were a real treat. Every heartwarming story needs a comedic element, especially from some if its villains, and Talbert and Xavior provide just that. They play well off of each other, and are the perfect lackey’s for Miss Hannigan.

Sarah Kinser plays Grace, Warbucks’ secretary and love interest, and is perfect for the part. Her motherly demeanor with Annie is just the right touch.

Of course, any production of “Annie” wouldn’t be complete without orphans, and there are plenty in this production. The young actors and actresses are adorable in every scene they are in, and they make you want to adopt each one before the show ends.

The set design by Justin Steele was simple yet effective. The color scheme chosen for the Warbucks mansion was a nice touch, and added to the production value.

The production closes out its run this weekend, with three performances. Show times are today and Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 330-332-9688. Tickets can also be purchased through the Salem Theatre website.

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Editor’s note: Molley Lemley is a junior at Malone College pursuing a career in journalism and theatre. She hails from Tallmadge where she attended school. She can be reached at molliel2022@gmail.com

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