Top 10 Shows of 2018

As the year comes to a close, Buffalo Theatre Guide is pleased to announce the TOP 10 Shows of 2018, based on page views! These shows were reviewed by a Buffalo Theatre Guide writer, and the review was shared via social media. These shows will be honored with a certificate which will be mailed to the theatre in the new year. Congratulations to all the winners this year!

Honorable Mentions:

15: “Jesus Christ Superstar” – American Repertory Theatre Of WNY

Review is here.

14. “Annie” – Lancaster Opera House

Review is here.

13. “Once” – MusicalFare Theatre

Review is here.

Steven Copps and Renee Landrigan in ‘Once’ at MusicalFare Theatre.

12. “Alice in Wonderland” – Aurora Players

Review is here.

The Cast of “Alice In Wonderland” at Aurora Players. Photo by Dori Shear-McGowan.

11. “Mamma Mia!” Kavinoky Theatre

Review is here.

TOP 10 Shows of 2018

10: “Big Fish” – Second Generation Theatre Company

Review is here. 

9. “Mary Poppins” – Theatre In The Mist

Review is here.

 

8. “All My Sons” – Niagara Regional Theatre Guild

Review is here.

The cast of “All My Sons” by Niagara Regional Theatre Guild.

 

7.  “Spring Awakening” – MusicalFare Theatre

Review is here.

The cast of MusicalFare’s ‘Spring Awakening.’ Photo by Chris Cavanagh.

6. “Sive” –  Irish Classical Theatre

Review is here. 

Josephine Hogan and Kiana Duggan-Haas in “Sive” at Irish Classical Theatre.

5.  “The Wizard of Oz” – Rocking Horse Productions

Review is here.

4.  “And Then There Were None” at Aurora Players

Review is here.

The cast of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” at Aurora Players. Photo by Dori Shear-McGowan.

3.  “Oliver!” at Lancaster Opera House

Review is here.

2.   Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Lockport Palace Theatre

Review is here.

The cast of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” at Lockport Palace Theatre.

 

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street –  Kavinoky Theatre

Review is here.

Loraine O’Donnell and Matt Witten in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street” at Kavinoky Theatre.

Theatre Review: ‘Annie’ at Lancaster Opera House

I’ll be honest – I’ve seen ‘Annie’ more times than I care to admit. Annie is cute, the dog is cute…. it’s all cute. However, I was drawn to the Opera House production based on their renaissance over the past few years. David Bondrow’s development of the resident company has been exciting to watch and it continues to churn out high quality productions – a tradition it continues with its latest production of “Annie.”

This production is definitely worth a trip to the Lancaster Opera House.

“Annie” is based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” and follows a hopeful girl as she dreams of finding her real parents who left her at the orphanage. While she and her friends try to avoid the wrath of Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage, Annie is selected to spend the Christmas holidays in the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks, who opens his heart to Annie.

Tiffany Nowak stars as Annie, and boy, is she a star. Nowak effortlessly belts out the musical’s iconic song, “Tomorrow” soon after a rousing rendition of “It’s the Hard Knock Life” alongside some really talented young actors. Nowak is optimistic and beams happiness and hope. Bondrow, who directed the production, made a stellar choice in casting her.

Tim Hartman steps in as Oliver Warbucks, commanding the stage with his height and deep baritone. He’s vocally strong and comedically stronger. Though it’s clear by his comfort level in this role that he’s done it a few times before, he paired greatly with Nowak and enraptured the opening night crowd.

Chrissy Vogric-Hunnell is Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ secretary. Her soprano voice soars and she brings a classy, bright performance to the stage. She’s especially good in moments alone with Annie and with Warbucks, bringing a little extra focus to their developing relationships.

And then there is Anne DeFazio as Miss Hannigan. Her Miss Hannigan is loud, unstable and visibly cold-hearted, making her a perfect choice for the show’s main villain. Watching her unravel during “Little Girls” is delightful, as well as seeing her scheme alongside her brother Rooster (a smarmy Marc Sacco) and his dim-witted arm candy Lily St. Regis (a delightfully annoying Meghan Cobham) in “Easy Street.”

The adult ensemble is vocally outstanding, ensuring that the less familiar songs and scenes from the musical are just as worth watching as the iconic ones. Particularly charming is Ricky Needham’s appearances as President Franklin Roosevelt. While I’m not quite sure why his character voice drifts to a British dialect at times, he makes the character larger than life and leads an impressive multi-part harmony in one of the “Tomorrow” reprises with members of his cabinet. Nathan Andrew Miller also transforms a character of few words, Drake (Warbucks’ butler) into a memorable, chuckle-inducing performance.

Before this production, I’ve never bothered to notice choreography in any production of “Annie,” but Heather Reed’s work here is delightful. It is memorable and fun, playing up the best bits of every song.

While initially I wasn’t a fan of David Dwyer’s static set, I soon fell in love with its versatility thanks to the texture and color choices he made as well as the use of the New York City skyline as a frame for each of the doors and wall panels.

Tiffany Nowak’s bright-eyed and vocally impressive “Annie” is surrounded by an incredible ensemble well worth the price of a ticket. This production is definitely worth a trip to the Lancaster Opera House.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and twenty minutes including a fifteen minute intermission

“Annie” runs through June 24th at Lancaster Opera House. For more information, click here.