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On the off chance you’ve never heard of Annie, a few fundamentals: It’s a platonic love triangle between a Republican plutocrat, an independent orphan, and a Democratic president. (Who’s the vampire and who’s the werewolf in this triad, I leave to you and your post-election politics.) There’s a Great Depression on, and Annie, a spunky carrot-topped optimist, is under the thumb of alcoholic bureaucrat and all-around orphan-enslaver Ms. Hannigan. She quickly graduates to the household of gruff, self-made arms dealer Oliver Warbucks (Broadway newcomer Anthony Warlow), thereby fulfilling the American dream: to be adopted by an emotionally compartmentalized kajillionaire. Nearly half the electorate saw that dream dashed earlier this week, so Annie should enjoy healthy returns from both wide-eyed children and any red-eyed adult wards looking to indulge some sweet trickle-down might-have-beens.
Along the road out of serfdom, Annie sings a blizzard of tunes, some of the catchiest ever written for the Broadway stage. You will cry, or consider crying, if you have a functioning amygdala. Chances are, if you do cry, if you buy in and buy big, you will cry a lot, because there are adorable orphans and rampant nostalgia and a dog. James Lapine’s spare, nuts-and-bolts production doesn’t get between you and your natural human Annie response, nor does Lapine's attempt to goose it. ’Twould be redundant, anyhow: Composer Charles Strouse, book-writer Thomas Meehan, and lyricist Martin Charnin locked in the magic that makes Annie Annie a long time ago, and the show works just as well today as it did when it was birthed, mid-malaise, in a burst of post-Watergate blue-skying. In the late seventies, America desperately needed a cherub swearing the sun would come out tomorrow; what came out, of course, was Reagan and “Morning in America.” Tomorrow belonged to him, it turned out, for nearly 30 years. (When John Huston’s movie appeared, in 1982, Annie had been stripped of the lefty anthem “A New Deal for Christmas” and “We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover,” and FDR’s stage time was judiciously reduced.)Here and there, more has been added, usually in the form of busy, business-y staging and slightly hyperactive choreography. Andy Blankenbuehler’s a master traffic-cop of organized near-anarchy (e.g. Bring It On and In the Heights), but Annie is simplicity itself, and more, more often than not, really does mean less. In a show like this, the audience shouldn't have to choose where to look.