annieAt left, Carly Nelson is ANNIE (and Oliver is Sandy) in the Phoenix Productions staging of the musical favorite. At right, Annie and her fellow orphans bedevil Lauren J. Cooke as Miss Hannigan. (Photos courtesy Phoenix Productions)


From church basement to charity bash, from middle school to midsummer stock, there’s probably never a weekend when somebody somewhere is NOT staging a production of Annie, the sassy musical period piece based on Harold Gray’s seemingly ageless comic strip character Little Orphan Annie.

Which begs the question: how can the sun come out”Tomorrow” when the sun never sets on the Annie empire?

While you ponder that, consider the fact that when the folks at Red Bank-based Phoenix Productions put on a show, they’re mounting it not at that aforementioned church basement, but at the landmark performing arts venue that is the Count Basie Theatre. When the Count’s resident community theater troupe revisits Annie, Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and company this weekend, they’ll be treading the same boards as have supported some of the most legendary figures in showbiz — and they’ll even put forth a cast that boasts at least one performer with something of a bone-a-fide Broadway pedigree.
Read More »