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'Annie' at Beef and Boards

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The orphans sing about their “Hard Knock Life” asthey dance around their room in the orphanage.
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Annie (Claire Kauffman) puts her arms aroundOliver Warbucks (Ty Stover) in the final scene of “Annie” at Beef & Boards Dinner Theater.

By John J. Guglielmi - For The Courier-Times

Little could Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley fathom that one of his most popular poems would become a comic strip, musical plays, radio programs, television shows and movies. “Little Orphan Annie,” was written in 1885 and inspired by Mary Alice “Allie” Smith, an orphan living in the Riley home during her childhood. Mary Alice helped around the house and took care of the Riley children. At night, Mary Alice told the children scary stories.

Now appearing at Beef & Boards is “Annie.” The delightful musical follows a red-headed orphan girl from her repressive orphanage to the home of a billionaire. The play runs through July 15.

The New York City Municipal Orphanage is run with an iron fist by Miss Hannigan (Kelly Teal Goyette). In a delightful rendition of “It’s The Hard Knock Life,” Annie (Claire Kauffman) leads the orphans in a song of defiance. This is my favorite number and well executed by the girls.

Molly (Sylvia Templet), is an 8-year-old ball of fire among the orphan girls and a delight to watch. “Annie” is her Beef & Boards debut and you can tell she is enjoying every minute of it.

Annie is fed up with how the orphans are treated and leaves for the big city. There she makes friends with large dog and names him Sandy (Piper Williams) and sings “Tomorrow.” Annie’s freedom is short lived and she is taken back to the orphanage and bears the wrath of Miss Hannigan.

Kelly Teal Goyette plays Hannigan as a high strung, frustrated woman who wants more from life and doesn’t have a clue how to get it. And she doesn’t even like kids. That is evident in the song “Little Girls.”

Warbucks’ assistant, Grace (Bobbi Bates), visits the orphanage to select a girl to spend Christmas at the Warbucks mansion. Annie impresses Grace and leaves with her for the holidays.

Annie is overwhelmed by the staff, Oliver Warbucks and the mansion itself that she sings “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here.” Warbucks (Ty Stover) becomes attached to the precocious Annie and wants to adopt her. But the adoption comes to a bump when Warbucks discovers Annie has been trying to find her parents for years.

He puts the adoption on hold and appears on the radio (no television back then) and to announce a generous reward to the real parents of Annie. The Bert Healy Show is a bunch of fun complete with sound effects and a trio of singing ladies.

When money is mentioned, Rooster (Jeff Stockberger) and friend Lilly St. Regis (Deb Wims) suddenly appear in Miss Hannigan’s office. They all hatch a plan to show up at the Warbucks mansion and claim to be Annie’s parents.

“Easy Street” is sung by the thieving trio as they think about the reward they are going to get their hands on. Hannigan tells them all she knows about Annie for a split of the reward.

Things go very wrong for Rooster and Lilly when they stop by to pick up Annie. With the help of the FBI and President Roosevelt (James Anthony), the plot is foiled and Rooster and Lily are carted off by the police to jail.

Claire Kauffman knocked it out of the park as Annie with her singing and acting ability. A delight to watch. John Vessels was the perfect Drake the butler, as always. Ty Stover has a powerful singing voice plays Warbucks to the hilt. Stockberger and Wims are, of course, their comical and outrageous selves as Rooster and Lily.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theater is located at 9301 Michigan Road, Indianapolis. For more information call, 317-876-0513 or go to www.beefandboards.com.