Welcome back. Friends on July 20-23 the play that broke all the records at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway back in 1977, winning a Tony Award for Best Musical along the way, will be playing here at the Bartlesville Community Center. This show has been produced overseas in just about any country you can name including Germany, Ireland and Russia. Based on a comic strip that was popular from 1924 through the 1960s, the story starts in an orphanage in 1933 when a little girl who runs away meets millionaire Oliver Warbucks. She also meets a President named Roosevelt and many other prominent figures in a drama that is still a big hit today when between 700 to 900 productions of this musical are staged every year across the globe.
This year we will all have the opportunity to enjoy the show ourselves in a theater that was made for this type of legendary production. I’m sure most of you have guessed by now that I’m talking about Annie which back in 1977 starred Andrea McArdle as Annie and Reid Shelton as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.
The show premiered at the historic Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT before moving to Broadway and was directed by Michael Price. I have been to the Goodspeed several times and I can tell you it is a truly beautiful small theater on the banks of the Connecticut River.
The Goodspeed opened in 1963 with a mission to produce new or little known musicals and bring them to a wider audience. With the leadership of Michael Price from 1968-2014 the theater produced over 250 musicals including 70 world premieres and 24 of these shows went to Broadway, including Annie. The Goodspeed itself has been recognized with two special Tony Awards and continues its dedication to musical theater including this summer when they are showcasing a production of Oklahoma!
I also know some McArdles back in Connecticut who were involved in the theater but that is a story for another day. I’ve got the scoop from the backstage personnel that this production is very professionally staged and that the backdrops are top of the line, guaranteed to make you feel just like you’re sitting in the Neil Simon Theater in New York. I also know from some of the parents and grandparents whose kids are involved in the production just how hard these young actors worked perfecting their skills to put on a show I’m predicting no one there will ever forget. Annie. Don’t miss it. For tickets contact Children’s Musical Theatre or the Bartlesville Community Center Box Office.
As for me, this week the road lies north up I-35 out of Oklahoma to Kansas where many a cattle drive ended. Kansas was also the state where wagons pulled by oxen loaded up with supplies headed for Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m checking out this old trail for a historical story I’m working on and should have more for you on that next time when I see ya down the road…..