The current touring production of Annie marks the 19th time since its 1977 Tony-sweeping Broadway run that Martin Charnin is directing the show. At this point, it's a well-oiled machine, and whether it's because of youthful orphan enthusiasm, Beowulf Borritt's lush backdrops, or the irresistible affection for the material of its adult principals, that machine still shines like the top of the Chrysler Building.
Charles Strouse and Charnin's songs hit just about three generations of current and former little girls right in the nostalgia zone, and between the powerhouse delivery of Lynn Andrews' take-no-prisoners Miss Hannigan and Gilgamesh Taggett's burly, brusque Oliver Warbucks, this tour is nearly a bull's-eye.
The misses? Well, to paraphrase former Philadelphian and Warbucks contemporary W.C. Fields, it's best never to review animals or children. Luckily, neither orphans nor Sandy (played by the canine duo Sunny and Macy, whose inspirational online bios are worth a read) fall short here, and Lilly Mae Stewart's house pip-squeak Molly seems to be having a blast, which makes the show all the more enjoyable. Still, Charnin's direction of the girls tends toward the hammy, and while Issie Swickle's Annie performs with professional aplomb, her singing voice tends toward the nasal, though when she heads into "Tomorrow," she's a first-class belter.
Garrett Deagon's Rooster Hannigan delivers the show's least-compelling performance, with little of the sleazy, unctuous appeal that defines the role and makes "Easy Street" the showstopper it ought to be. Nonetheless, Lucy Werner's Lily St. Regis maintains the Dumb Dora act just fine, and, on the opposite end of the show's blonde spectrum, Ashley Edler, as Warbucks' personal assistant Grace Farrell - clad in costumer Suzy Benzinger's sleek Chanel-inspired suits, cloches, and gowns - supplies ample warmth.
This production also feels like an homage to a classic, which, in a way, it is, and was, even in the '70s. There's still something thrilling - even if you're aware of the current price of a cup of third-wave artisanal Manhattan joe - about the glorious outline of the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park's treetops as seen from Warbucks' penthouse, and the cast crooning Strouse and Charnin's ode to "NYC," in which a gal can hop off a bus with three bucks, two bags and start chasing her dreams. It happened once, right? Maybe it can happen again. In Annie, there's plenty of wish-fulfillment to go around.
Through Sunday at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets.