Annie / Zilker Summer Musical : 4 of 5

Although I've only seen a handful of the annual productions at the Zilker Hillside Theater, I couldn't wait to go to this year's production of Annie, since my pal Kirk German plays the comical villain Rooster! Due to Kirk's kindness (and the fact that we were with Anne-Marie who is full-term pregnant), my friends and I got to experience the show from reserved seats directly in front of the stage, which made this a completely wonderful (and ant-free) evening unlike any other Zilker night I've had before! Since it had been ages since I'd seen Annie (either on film or stage), I got to enjoy the show from a newcomer's point of view, and everything seemed fresh and funny. Everyone was cast so well (with many actors playing an amazing number of multiple roles), including Annie herself, who made up for a few weak melody lines with her absolutely perfect charm and attitude, not to mention the cute "Annie look" that's so essential for the character. Of course, my biased opinion says that the villains Miss Hannigan and her brother Rooster stole the show with their hilarious number Easy Street, performed with delicious full-force comic abandon, which had me laughing so loud that I missed half the lines of the song! The plot was much simpler than I remember (probably because I'm thinking of the movie version), but I thought the inclusion of President Roosevelt as a character really put the optimistic spin of the story over the top (in a good way). The sets and costumes were far beyond the quality you would expect for an outdoor, free theater production, and the orchestra did a fine job (although I know it's difficult to keep instruments in tune in the sweltering heat). There were a few microphone problems (which were easily ignored from my deluxe close-up seat), but the cast and technical crew worked through these as quickly as possible. Although I was lucky to have a pampered viewing experience, plus the joy of being with good friends watching our talented pals doing what they love, Annie definitely stands on its own as a wonderful production that I highly recommend for the rest of its run!