I didn’t realize how much I missed live theater until I teared up during the opening scene of Annie. It was the perfect return for me. I, like most girls who grew up in the 80s, know all the songs and love the story. But it also opens the door for deep discussions about our current world. I highly recommend that you grab a playbill to read together on the drive home. There is so much useful discussion material contained in it.
A Deep Dive into Annie
I think we all know the story of Annie – either from the multiple movies that have been made (there have been 5), the comic strip and/or the Broadway musical. And, did you know that the first Little Orphan Annie was actually a poem. It doesn’t have much to do with the musical version of Annie – except you can see how her personality was set right from the beginning. The Annie of the poem is a tough child who loves to share stories with the other children. You can hear the poem Little Orphant Annie read here:
Despite the fact that we likely know the story, there is so much relevant material to mine for family discussions. The playbill can help with this:
- Bring a pen and/or markers because there are activities on pages 14-15 that kids can do before the show and during the intermission. It encourages kids to make their own comic strip, think about hope and optimism and explore the meaning of home.
- On the car ride after the show, discuss the six questions for the ride home found on page 16.
- Explore a timeline of how Annie has changed during the last 136 years (pg. 10).
- Watch a reading the poem together (above)
- Read the comic strip.
- You can watch another version of the musical on NBC on December 2nd. It would be fun to compare the two versions.
- Compare our lives today with the lives of children during the Great Depression (pg. 12).
- Try some backyard games.
- Listen to old-time radio programs. I really like Spotify for finding these shows, but YouTube and oldtime.radio are also good options. CTC suggests the Little Orphan Annie Radio Show found on Internet Archive.
- Make a depression-era casserole for dinner – creamed chip beef on toast?
- Read a comparison of Annie and the Harlem Renaissance (pg 7). If you want to go follow this road a little further:
- Listen to some poetry by Langston Hughes (here is a YouTube link to the poet reading, I, Too)
- Play this Harlem Renaissance music playlist during dinner.
- Explore art with the National Gallery of Art or on the MIA’s website (none of these works are currently on view).
- Get an overview of theater from the era.
- Older kids and adults may want to discuss deeper issues that are touched on during the play, like:
- Homelessness and the gap between rich and poor then and now;
- The meaning of family and who makes up a family
- Hope in tough times.
CTC always does a great job of using its playbills to focus in on things you probably catch as you watch the show but may not have time to concentrate on. I love bringing home the booklet and spending a little more time with everything we saw.
About Annie from Children’s Theatre
Times are tough, spirits are low, and the world is in dire need of hope. Enter, stage left: a delightful underdog—a good-natured, yet mischievously feisty, young girl. She takes on the world and, with an equal share of moxie and music, unlocks hearts and changes lives through kindness, love, and spirit. Like Annie and Daddy Warbucks sing, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow!”
“Annie is, without question, one of the truly great American musicals. It is set in the Great Depression and the young hero of the story offers a profound voice of hope, determination, and optimism. The musical is also a celebration of non-traditional and chosen families. I hope audiences young and old are captivated by her spunk, her charm, and her wisdom.”
Director Peter Rothstein
The winner of seven Tony Awards, this show is one of the world’s best-loved musicals, about a mischievous and feisty orphan who unlocks hearts and changes lives through kindness, love, and spirit. It is a spirited and inspiring story that reminds audiences that hope is always possible, there is always “Tomorrow.”
Annie Runs November 7, 2021 through January 9, 2022.
Parental Guidance for Annie
Children’s Theatre gives this musical an “all ages” rating. While there is nothing scary or objectionable for young children (unless you include Reed Sigmund and Autumn Ness trading bubblegum), it is a long musical – two full hours with an intermission; younger children may have a hard time sitting still for two one-hour periods.
You may also want to consider vaccination status when deciding which children to bring to this show. The theatre requires masking and either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test for anyone over the age of 12 1/2, but only masking for kids 12 and under. There was no buffering between families as far as seating goes. Your personal comfort with this is a decision best made before you arrive.
Final Thoughts on Annie
The combination of Children’s Theatre and a Broadway classic like Annie guarantees a fun family night out.
Annie runs November 7, 2021 through January 9, 2022 on the UnitedHealth Group Stage. Tickets can be purchased at childrenstheatre.org/annie or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400. Ticket prices range from $15-$73.
Photos by Glen Stubbe Photography and Courtesy of Children’s Theatre Company