Written by Whitney McGree Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
It is really hard to dispute the fact that John Hayes is the best director of community theater on Long Island. For the past 40 years he has been a director and for the past 37 years for the Herricks Commuity Players.
This production of Annie reflects the multi-talent of Hayes, as he is able to navigate this entire cast on and off the stage to their assigned positions as if they were one. He is a true genius and that is exactly why every one of his shows is an undisputed hit.
Annie is based on the “Little Orphan Annie” with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan.
In this production of Annie, Hayes has chosen two Annies who will take turns performing. They are Nicole Fauci and Julie Bedeian and they are both wonderful and, under the guidance of Hayes, have become “Annie.”
The orphans, you just know were handpicked by Hayes. They are fantastic, especially when they take over the stage with their song “Fully Dressed.”
A low bow must be given to choreographers Barbara Murphy and Penny Payne. They have done a spectacular job with the children as well as the many ensemble dance numbers. Exhausting work, but they did an outstanding job.
Carol Giorgio is in the role of the “hateful” Miss Hannigan, who is in charge of the orphans. She does a fantastic job and is so believable.
The super-talented John Mezzo, who every time he walks on the stage takes it over, plays her brother Rooster. Basically, he is one of the funniest performers on the Herricks stage and when he is paired with the other Herricks super talent, Barbara Murphy, it is hard not to be absolutely consumed with laughter. They are wonderful.
Daddy Warbucks is played superbly by Bill Kane, who incidentally, shaved his head for the role, no hairpiece for him. Grace is played by Kathleen Nadel and she, too, is perfect; sweet and kind and forceful when she has to be. Veteran of Herricks Players Warren Shein has a very funny bit when he turns up as Bert Healy.
The ensemble is fantastic as they come in and out of their scenes making both their dance and musical numbers look so easy.
Working with Hayes is his wife, Carol, who for each production is the producer and she does a great job in keeping everything working like clockwork, expecially the finances, for the nonprofit production that donates its entire proceeds to the Herricks Fund. She is assisted by Margo Bayroff, who is also one of the stage managers and who has the exhausting job of making sure all the actors backstage are in the right place at the right time.
Without musical director Susan Weber there would be no show. She works tirelessly with the cast of singers and dancers every night for weeks on end to make sure every note is right on key and then for the last few nights of rehearsal and for every performance she gathers together the most outstanding orchestra to rival any Broadway production. She is a genius.
By her side, during the entire rehearsal process, is rehearsal pianist, Frank Sanchez, who makes sure to give just the right note for each solo and ensemble number.
In this show, the sets are outstanding, especially the living room scene of Daddy Warbucks, because it looks like the real deal rather than being a set, and that is thanks to the creativity of Peter Triolo, who is construction designer working hand-in-hand with John Roarty, set designer. Especially spectacular is the Christmas tree as it lights up the stage.
The costumes were sewed, pinned and put together by the talented hands of Eleanor and Shelly Leslie and Penny Payne.
The key to any successful production is the ability to hear the actors and singers and that is controlled successfully by the sound design of Richard Gibbons. The lighting, under the direction of both Peter Triolo and Christian Tucci, is perfect.
All in all this production of Annie is definitely a hit, so run, don’t walk to get tickets before they are entirely sold out.