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Weekend Life

Tales from the Motherhood: Taking time out from ‘a hard knock life’ to see ‘Annie’

Caroline Heffernan (left) plays Annie and Christine Sherrill plays Miss Hannigan in the 
rags-to-riches musical “Annie.” The show runs through Dec. 30 at the Paramount 
Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora.
Caroline Heffernan (left) plays Annie and Christine Sherrill plays Miss Hannigan in the rags-to-riches musical “Annie.” The show runs through Dec. 30 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora.

A few nights ago I rushed to vacuum the house before heading out to a meeting, but ran out of time, so I passed the vacuum to Holly. 

“It’s a hard knock life,” she replied, frowning. 

Ha! Nice try, kid, I thought, as I made a mental note to assign more chores to the kids. 

Holly and I got to see the musical “Annie” expertly performed at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora last Saturday afternoon, and, clearly, she paid attention. It wasn’t difficult. I felt pulled in to the story almost immediately, and practically grinned the whole time. 

I can honestly say it’s one of the best productions I’ve ever seen, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of live theater over the years, including several Broadway shows (when I lived in New York). 

In fact, I don’t think there was a weak link in the whole performance. I’m not alone in my assessment, apparently. I’m sure I’ve never heard so many random strangers rave to each other about a production as they left a theater before. It was that good. 

Holly was most entranced with the dogs featured in the show, especially Mikey, the pooch who played a perfect “Sandy,” but otherwise, she was really impressed with the acting chops of Christine Sherrill, who played Miss Hannigan, the orphans’ tyrannical, zany, smoke-ring-blowing guardian. 

“The crazy lady, she should be an actress,” Holly announced, as we walked back to our car. 

No kidding, Sherrill was awesome. And man, can she sing? She belted out some big notes with a depth of feeling that gave me the chills. She held nothing back, and nor did the Paramount Theater Orchestra. The young actresses who played Annie (Caroline Heffernan) and the other orphans weren’t too shabby, either. In fact, the littlest one, played by Jaclyn Dougherty for this performance, very nearly stole the show with her cute-but-not-cloying portrayal of “Kate.” 

I won’t spoil the fun, but trust me, Don Richard as “FDR” provided some hilarious and heartwarming moments, too. 

Audiences familiar with this beloved depression-era story will love singing along to old favorites, just as Holly and I did. My kids must have watched the film version of “Annie” (starring Albert Finney and Carol Burnett) a thousand times, and this production didn’t disappoint. What’s more, I didn’t have to head to New York or even to Chicago to enjoy it. 

In fact, we left our house maybe 20 minutes before the curtain went up and even snagged a free parking spot on the street. I’m not sure why we’ve not been to more shows at the Paramount, which couldn’t be more convenient, but we won’t make that mistake again. 

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at jenniferdubose@msn.com.

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