Annie shines as the Kimmel Cultural Campus Broadway season opener

-Brenda Hillegas
feature photo: Ellie Pulsifer as Annie and Addison as Sandy, by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade 

Of course the Broadway season at Kimmel Cultural Campus should open with Annie! After a pandemic that closed theatres for 18 months and regulations to keep everyone safe once they returned, it’s finally time to bring the whole family out to enjoy a musical together! Annie is the absolute perfect musical for kids to experience the joy of live theatre. There’s an incredible cast of children, an easy to follow storyline filled with hope and optimism, catchy songs (hello “Tomorrow”), and a real dog! Plus it takes place around Christmas, so why not get into the holiday spirit early with this super heartwarming tale? Annie, in partnership with The Shubert Organization, runs now through October 16th at the Miller Theater.

Little orphan Annie gets the opportunity of a lifetime when billionaire Mr. Warbucks invites her to stay with him for the holidays. Orphanage director, Miss Hannigan, is livid and plots how she can benefit from Annie’s great luck. While Annie is hopeful that her own parents will return to bring her home one day, Miss Hannigan schemes with her brother Rooster and his wife to make money off of the situation. Annie’s story is rounded out with a group of adorable orphan friends, a staff to wait on her at any moment, a friendship with President Roosevelt, and her dog Sandy.

Ellie Pulsifer makes her tour debut as Annie and she carries Annie’s determination, wit and strong-willed personality so well. Her voice fills the theatre and she was 100% into the role. If you have a child with an interest in theatre, please take them to this show so they can see Ellie perform. “It’s the Hard Knock Life” was probably the most fun song, obviously, with the ensemble of orphans working so well with one another. This and Ellie’s “Maybe” gave me chills because the cast of kids is so good!

Christopher Swan stars as Oliver Warbucks, Stefanie Londino as Miss Hannigan, and Julia Nicole Hunter as Grace (she actually got her start here in Philadelphia at Walnut Street Theatre’s In The Heights). I’ve seen the 1982 movie Annie so many times and this current tour cast really helped me remember what I love about that version. Everyone seemed perfect in their roles, especially Nick Bernardi as Rooster and Krista Curry as Lily. Special shout out to the wonderful, adorable Sandy, played by Addison (a stray mutt rescued by iconic stage and screen animal trainer William Berloni).

Annie premiered in the summer of 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut and transferred to Broadway the following spring. The show won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan) and Best Score (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin), and closed after playing 2,377 performances. Revivals opened in 1997 and 2014. Annie was brought to life on screen in 1982, 1999 and 2014, along with a live tv version that aired on NBC. Don’t sleep on this timeless Broadway classic while it’s here in Philadelphia.

More info and tickets can be found here. Use code RUSH to find select $30-$35 tickets at each performance. Annie is also part of the Kimmel Cultural Campus Family Discovery Series- buy three shows and save; details here.

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