‘Annie’ is at Town Hall
ISLIP TOWN—There’s a “new kid in town.” Although CK Productions has been a resident theater company since 2013 in the Art Deco-inspired Islip Town Hall West on Main Street, it has now opened its doors to the public with outstanding performances.
The company was founded by 18-year-old Ethan Felizzari, who has mounted the current production of “Annie.” The ever-popular musical, set in depression-era New York, is about the rambunctious orphan Annie (12-year-old Amber Corrigan) who is chosen by Grace (Maria Nadia Michaels) to visit billionaire “Daddy” Warbucks’s (T. Gregg McClain) mansion for two weeks, facilitating a scheme to build up his image in the public eye. In a plot twist, Annie warms his heart with her precocious personality and lovable dog, Sandy (2-year-old Magneto), whom she’d found in a downtrodden Hooverville tent city. Together they share new and different fun times: a meeting with President Roosevelt, where it is implied Annie gave him his idea for The New Deal; an attempt to find her long-lost parents and a ruse uncovered by Annie’s friends at the orphanage; and ultimately, every orphan’s dream, being adopted (by Warbucks) and finally embraced as part of a real family.
The cast—comprised of a delightful ensemble of amazingly talented children—danced, dressed in authentic period costumes and sang memorable favorites, such as “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” which set the tone for the whole evening, captivating the audience. The multi-leveled set and lighting perfectly illuminated the feeling of a dour orphanage. The kids’ number, followed by Miss Hannigan’s (Diane Marmann) “Little Girls,” really showed her true disdain for her charges.
Exceptionally creative sets, lighting, costumes and choreography coupled with spot-on acting by the leads, Annie, Warbucks and his assistant, Grace, made this a top-notch evening of captivating theater. Corrigan, whose acting credits include “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Les Miserables,” sang Annie’s classic “Tomorrow” in a crystal-clear voice, all while adeptly handling her dog Sandy—cast not as the usual scruffy little dog we are used to seeing, but rather an enormously endearing, big, furry Leonberger, a German breed who has many acting credits of his own, including Denzel Washington’s movie, “The Equalizer.” Corrigan’s next event will be the prestigious Ultimate Vocal Summit, a nationwide show of talented children.
McClain’s Warbucks was that of an impeccably dressed, attractive, engaging businessman with a heart of gold. His portrayal made the audience want to go wherever he went and one day maybe even be him. Originally from Indiana, McClain was a member of the National Shakespeare Conservatory and also studied at the Actors Studio; one of his teachers was Shirley MacLaine.
Michael’s performance of Grace was well done and very sweet, serving as the connecting tissue for Annie and Warbucks’s relationship to blossom. Her period costumes, a coat trimmed in fur or her glamorous red velvet gown, were just lovely to look at and elicited many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ every time she came on stage.
To say CK is a family affair would be an understatement. Originally from El Salvador, Ethan Felizzari has incorporated Sydnee LaBuda, “Annie” director and his 18-year-old girlfriend, into the fold. She is just one of the youthful creative team members that comprise CK.
Justin Felizzari, 21, Ethan’s brother, is a clothing designer, who, along with LaBuda and Debbie Parker, did the costumes; Rodrigo Escalante, Ethan’s cousin, did the set design; choreographer Kristin Felizzari, his sister, kept everyone on their toes; and Ethan’s parents worked the box office. Ethan’s mom expressed extreme pride in her family and Ethan’s vision of CK’s creative community.
“CK is dedicated to giving students and young professionals in Long Island and New York City (with little or no experience) the place to create their very own theatrical productions,” she said. “Since the start, they have expanded, producing not only theatrical ventures, but acclaimed films, dance and music projects led by not only students and young professionals, but industry professionals and young adult professionals collaborating together to create a truthful art.”
“CK’s mission is to create a whole new level of entertainment and inspire everyone to never stop bringing arts into their own communities and to this world,” remarked Ethan.
All of the principles of CK are continuing their education as students of the arts in addition to bringing quality theater to Islip Town. Upcoming productions include “The Wizard of Oz” and “Into the Woods,” both children’s productions, in addition to “Clybourne Park” and “The Wedding Singer” for adults.
“Annie” will run through Jan. 3 and is a perfectly delightful evening of theater for both children and adults. For further information about CK Productions, go to the website CKproductionsnewyork.com.
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