• Broadway Beat

OPINION: Middle School Girl in One-Inch Character Shoes Actually Kind of Serving

by Riley Rogers. @wrylyrogers.

I’m starting to fear that I’m the only audience member in this converted middle school cafeteria who is open-minded enough to actually “get” this production of Annie Jr. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve seen a live performance. Maybe I’ve just been desperate for the thrill of any in-person theatre. Or maybe, just maybe, this preteen playing Miss Hannigan in one-inch scuffed up black character shoes and visibly dirty tights is actually kind of serving?


Sure, she’s not always in the right key, but isn’t Miss Hannigan a drunk anyways? Is it such a stretch to believe that each note has actually been carefully crafted in order to convey to the audience the character’s true emotional state? Yes, she is a full measure behind the prerecorded piano track of “Little Girls,” but that’s just a poignant commentary on how Miss Hannigan has fallen behind in her personal life.


To the untrained eye, the one-inch character shoes could be necessary to ensure that the actress isn’t taller than the sixth-grade boy playing Rooster. To me, it’s so obviously a commentary on Miss Hannigan’s own shortcomings, never truly reaching the height of her potential. Why Miss Hannigan would have her hair up in a high ponytail with ringlet curls that look as crunchy as ramen noodles does puzzle me, but I’m sure the actress was working closely with the hair and makeup designer.


The man sitting next to me dared to let out a chuckle when she cracked on the last note of “Easy Street.” To him I say: how dare you, sir? Have you considered Miss Hannigan is at her breaking point at the end of this number, and that is why she cracked? It’s embarrassing, honestly, to be seated next to someone who doesn’t appreciate raw artistry.


Many greats have come before her, Carol Burnett, Jane Lynch, and even Kathy Bates, but none have done it quite like this. This performance is risky, and you know what? Maybe it’s not for you, okay? Perhaps she’s doing it for her. Did you ever think about that? Huh? Probably not. You make me sick.