By Heather Seay

As part of their Fifty Years of Memories celebration, Alhambra Theatre and Dining brings the classic musical “Annie” to the stage this summer. The night didn’t disappoint those who had grown up watching the movie of the same name as the show brought out fans of all ages. There was excited chatter prior to the show from those about to relive a favorite as well as anticipation from those who are new to “Annie.”  

“Annie” tells the story of an 11-year-old orphan who longs for her birth parents. She is fostered over the Christmas holiday by billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks and sees New York City as never before. Though she loves her time at the mansion, she never loses thoughts of her finding her parents. Her perseverance and uplifting spirit for a sunny tomorrow impacts all those she meets.

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The cast includes talented actors, many from right here in Jacksonville.  Several of the orphans are Jacksonville natives, including Carly Barnes, one of two girls cast as Annie. The spunk and scrappy personality of Annie, first seen in a comic strip in the 1920s and later in the 1982 movie version, is not lost in this performance. Lisa Valdini, a veteran of the Alhambra stage, channeled the craziness of Miss Hannigan, matron of the orphanage, beautifully. Grace Ferrell (played by Jennifer Medure), Mr. Warbucks’ secretary and Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (played by Mark Poppleton) were a perfect pair.

Set designers David Dionne and Ian Black created believable, seamless transitions from the dark, dingy orphanage to the warm, bright and welcoming mansion. Choreographers Shain Stroff and Brian Beach added life to classic songs like “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here.” However, they knocked it out the park with lively choreography for the orphans’ rendition of “Hard Knock Life.”

Chef DeJuan Roy has created another tempting menu specifically for this show. Even the pickiest of eaters will be satisfied with Chicken Veronique, Pan-Seared Snapper, Rigatoni and Giant House Made Meatballs or New York Style Vegetable Flatbread Pizza. The meal ends with a choice of either Pink Lemonade Cake or a Snickers Tart.

The night ended with a standing ovation and chatter from all those who attended, young and old, bringing some back to their childhood while creating new childhood memories for others. This is definitely a family event not to be missed.

“Annie” will be on stage at Alhambra Theatre and Dining through Aug. 13. Visit for tickets.
Photos courtesy Alhambra Theatre and Dining

The orphans stole the show with their rendition of “Hard Knock Life” in “Annie,” performed at Alhambra Theatre and Dining.


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