Fringe review: ‘Annie Todd: The Demon Orphan of Fleet Street,’ Greater Orlando Actors Theatre, Orlando.
By Elizabeth Maupin
The sun may not come up for Little Orphan Annie in Greater Orlando Actors Theatre’s Annie Todd, the Demon Orphan of Fleet Street. But co-writers David Strauss and Nicole Carson ought to be given something – a lifetime supply of Sondheim records? free mangy-dog kibble? – for their idea to cobble together Annie and Sweeney Todd, maybe the two most diametrically opposed musicals in musical-theater history. The result may not be genius, but it’s pretty funny, and it’s especially satisfying that everybody involved, from the dastardly characters to the paying audience, gets what they deserve.
Daddy Warbucks says Annie died of freckle cancer, but she’s really been hiding out, lying in wait to avenge what she thinks is the death of her beloved Sandy. From the beginning the writers get it right: “Attend the tale of Annie Todd / Her hair was red and her eyes were odd.” And the 10-member GOAT ensemble sounds pretty swell (although a lot of the solo pieces leave more to be desired.)
So “Hard Knock Life” becomes “Big Sharp Knife” and “Easy Street” turns into “Mystery Meat,” but Miss Hannigan (Carson) is as relentless as ever: “OK, girls,” she says, “it’s time for your Ambien.” Brett Carson makes a suitably evil-but-conflicted Daddy Warbucks, and Mira Strauss is an otherworldly Annie, full of confidence and looking as if she just wandered in from Children of the Corn.
Some of the one-liners aren’t remotely funny, and Nicole Carson has nearly the only strong voice in the lot. But director Paul Castaneda and his company have delivered just what they promised with this musical-theater mashup. Now if they can only figure out a way to do away with Oliver!
Remaining performance: 6:40 p.m. Friday 5/28. Green venue.
(Photos: Top, Nicole Carson. Bottom, Mira Strauss and David Strauss. Photos by Kristen Wheeler/Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.)