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August 10, 2007
Missing 'Annie' moment

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I see a lot of plays - 50 to 60 a year - and what I remember or don’t about a particular production years later can be sketchy at best. But some moments - for whatever reason - stand out. Before Tuesday night, I’d only seen “Annie” once before, the 2001 Music Circus production directed by Leland Ball. There was a moment in the last number of the show when Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (Mark Zimmerman) turned toward his efficient, classy assistant Grace Farrell (Rachel deBenedet) and much to her surprise offered her an engagement ring, which she happily accepted. It was something that had remained in my mind’s eye as an emotionally rewarding moment that made sense to me.

At Tuesday night’s opening of “Annie,” at the Wells Fargo Pavilion, I found myself anticipating the exchange - but the moment never happened. Afterward, I cornered artistic director Scott Eckern, asking him if a different version of the play had been used. He said no - this was the same script they had used before, though there were some small alterations in the first act (actually mentioned to me at intermission by eagle-eyed Steve Issacson of the Davis Musical Theatre Company).

I insisted to Scott that something was missing in the final scene (Warbucks is again played by Zimmerman, by the way), and he calmly told me that they were doing the script they had always done. I went home disappointed and a little confused.

The next morning, the exceedingly thorough Mr. Eckern e-mailed me to say he had gone back and looked at the script Leland Ball had used in 2001. While it was the same script, Leland had in fact added the business of the ring and the proposal, which I had seen, and Eckern said he remembered after I asked him about it.

I felt a little better about my memory, though sad for Christy Morton’s Grace Farrell (pictured) who gets no ring in this production.

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