Preview: “The sun will come out” beginning tonight at the Benedum

"Annie" takes the stage at the Benedum Center

“Annie” takes the stage at the Benedum Center

The sun will come out this week at the Benedum Center when the national Broadway Tour of “Annie” opens for a week of “Hard Knock” performances.

The national touring cast features a Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera alum, Lily Smith, a graduate of Mount Lebanon High School. Smith is part of the ensemble performing as many characters throughout the show.

“I’ve lived my whole life in Pittsburgh,” Smith said. “I’m thrilled to come back. We have such a supportive area for the arts community.”

The beloved musical will kick off with performances on Tuesday, October 28 and close on Sunday, November 2. This year’s production returns to its roots with direction by original lyricist and 19 time director, Martin Charnin, and choreography by Liza Gennaro, the daughter of original choreographer Peter Gennaro. She has incorporated selections from her father’s choreography into the show.

“This production is truly a restoration of the original show,” said Smith. “It’s in the spirit of the original but pertains to now and has amazing dialogue and costumes.”

It’s hard to believe that “Annie” debuted on stage nearly 40 years ago, winning numerous awards for music, performance and more. The show has been translated in more than 25 languages and has been performed somewhere on earth for 37 years.

For those more in tune with the iconic film adaptation, the stage production features many of the most-loved songs such as “Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” and also includes songs not part of the film – such as “We Thank You Herbert Hoover,” which provides more of a back story.

“I really love the song ‘We Thank You Herbert Hoover’ because it’s so rich in history and emotion and really sets the historical background,” Smith said. “It really sets the tone of the show and helps develop the story.”

“Annie” stars nine-year-old actress, Issie Swickle, as the feisty red-headed title character, Gilgamesh Taggert as Oliver Warbucks, and Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan. The tour also features Ashley Edler as Grace Farrow, Garrett Deagon as Rooster, Lucy Werner as Lily, Allan Ray Baker as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Sunny, a four-year-old rescue terrier mix, as our favorite furry cast member, Sandy. According to Smith, FDR has one of the best scenes in the show.

“There is a scene in the cabinet of the White House when we’re singing ‘Tomorrow’ that is just incredible,” Smith said. “It’s one of the highlights of the whole show. I also love ‘Never Fully Dressed’ because I grew up dancing and singing to that song.”

Tickets start at just $23 and are available for all performances at the Box Office at Theater Square, by phone at 412-456-4800 or online at

Preview by Hayley Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges

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