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Talented BTG cast offers optimistic ‘Annie’

— Oliver Warbucks is the pompous and self-impressed billionaire who knows kings, presidents and even Babe Ruth. Cleanly-shorn Matt Noll is as stiff and business-like as he can be as Warbucks. Grace Farrell gives him his messages and introduces him to Annie. Warbucks has only dealt with boy orphans. What will he do with a little girl? She doesn’t even know Babe Ruth. Finally, amidst conversations with the powers of the world, Annie begins to melt his hard exterior. They decide to walk to the Roxy Theater and meet the people of the Big Apple. “NYC” is the salute to those streets and its people.

As we return to Miss Hannigan’s office, her brother Rooster (Lucas Greer) returns from a gig at Sing-Sing prison. His blond companion is Lily St. Regis (Katie Grabowski), “like the hotel.” She maintains her intellectually-challenged character throughout her funny sequences. The Hannigans remember what their dear mother told them. They should strive for “Easy Street,” where the money is plentiful. This threesome is the true comic relief in this show.

Finally, the irascible Warbucks warms to the winsome waif. He wants to adopt her and offers her a locket to replace the one she holds dear. Her parents left her at the orphanage promising to return and all she had was half of the locket to remember them. Warbucks enlists the FBI to help find Annie’s parents. He awkwardly broadcasts an appeal on that new invention, the radio. Noll portrays so many emotions: pomposity, concern, discomfort and ultimately love for the child he never had.

The Hannigans listen to Warbucks’ appeal and promise of a $50,000 reward for information regarding Annie’s parents. Rooster and Lily return as the Mudges, Annie’s bogus parents to the delight of Miss Hannigan. As the Warbucks mansion is decorated for the Christmas season, Annie invites the orphans and Miss Hannigan to her adoption party. Warbucks confesses “I Don’t Need Anyone But You.” The comic villains enter with the intention of taking Annie and the money. Why, he even invites a Democrat, President Roosevelt (Mark Rossler) to his Christmas feast, only after finding out what they eat.

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