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You'll love the holiday production of 'Annie' at Seattle's Fifth Avenue Theatre



Visesia Fakatoufifita as Annie and Timothy McCuen Piggee as Oliver Warbucks in the 5th Avenue Theatre production of "Annie."

Tracy Martin

I dare you to watch "Annie" at the Fifth Avenue Theatre and not come out smiling.

 

It's an excellently executed, fun, feel-good performance that would make a perfect family holiday outing. (My family took the light-rail train, went out to dinner, admired the lights and decorations and made an evening of it. See also: Why you should take your family to "The Nutcracker.")

 

"Annie" is a familiar and beloved story. The spirited, redheaded orphan is whisked away from the dreadful Miss Hannigan to spend the holidays with billionaire Oliver Warbucks and, well, it's life-changing for both of them.

 

Visesia Fakatoufifit and Faith Young share the role of Annie in the Fifth Avenue Theatre production. (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

 

We saw Visesia Fakatoufifit in the role of Annie. She and Faith Young share the role and divide the performances. It's the first 5th Avenue Theatre role for both girls, but both have performed extensively in local productions. Visesia was spectacular, with a very strong voice and engaging stage presence.

 

So were the rest of the girls in the ensemble. Their song-and-dance numbers were definitely the show's highlights.

 

Sandy the dog (portrayed by Broadway veteran Sunny) also tries to steal the show — and very nearly succeeds.

 

Even the history behind the show and the 5th Avenue Theatre was uplifting. On Nov. 30, the performance was dedicated to Don Covey, who died in October. Covey was one of the driving forces behind saving the theater when it was slated for destruction in the late 1970s. He was instrumental in a civic group that oversaw its transition to the musical-theater home it is today. In fact, the first production in the newly opened theater in 1980 was "Annie." (Fun fact: My then-teenage husband attended with his family.)

 

My one criticism, and this is with the script, not the production, is that I felt that President Franklin Roosevelt was portrayed as quite a buffoon. Goodhearted, but too buffoonish, I thought. The New Deal is mentioned (in the final number, "A New Deal for Christmas,") but the show credits Annie with having inspired the Depression-era recovery program, which is cute but obviously a bit of a reach.

 

A couple of practical notes: The Fifth Avenue generally doesn't allow kids under 4 at its productions. ... "Annie" obviously is child- and family-suitable. ... There is an intermission, but expect long lines at both the snack bar and the restrooms. ... There are booster seats to help kids see the stage. ... Take a moment to walk down and peer into the orchestra pit. 

 

"Annie" runs through Dec. 30 with both matinee and evening performances. Details and ticket information here.

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