I had the opportunity through Tampa Bay Bloggers to see Annie at the Straz Center, which used to be the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center when I was a kid. I rarely attend these kinds of events because good lord so busy and single mom and blah blah blah but I wanted to do this because theater has been part of my life, always. No one in my family had any involvement on stage, but my mother and grandmother introduced me to musicals very early on. My godmother in California also introduced me to Sondheim and obscure musicals like Metropolis. I grew up wanting to a limber dancer from Cats or a winsome soprano from Phantom of the Opera.
In reality, I was always awkward, tone deaf and terrified of being on stage. But that didn’t stop me from being a backstage part of productions throughout high school.
Like any parent, I not so secretly want my kids to like the things I like. So I brought both my kids (6 and 8) to Annie last night. The kindergartener isn’t really into plays. Last year, he sat in the front row at The Velveteen Rabbit and shouted, “I WISH I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE EARS.” I didn’t have high hopes for his Annie experience. As expected, he fidgeted and got super bored and face-planted asleep in his chair after the first act.
But my 8-year-old, ever the wild card, sat up riveted throughout the entire play. I watched him almost as much as I watched the action on stage. (Partially because The Book of Mormon is a little more my speed than Annie, and it was difficult for me to stop comparing it to the film I grew up adoring.)
He loved it.
As someone who is constantly trying to drag her kids away from the pied piper pull of TV and video games, I couldn’t be more thrilled that I got at least one kid to enjoy the theater. Now we already have plans to see Newsies and Matilda when they roll through Tampa. My dream is to take him to Broadway to see a few shows, since he already loves NYC.
Annie was cute, and definitely a touring production I’d recommend for elementary-aged kids as a nice introduction to Broadway shows. Since a lot of the performances are at 7:30, littler kids may be too zonked out by intermission to make it through. Next time I’ll leave my youngest at home. Since it’s a show for kids, there’s a little more tolerance for wiggly children, but it’s still theater. I wouldn’t bring a toddler, for example. Hit a matinee if you can, and don’t forget to grab a booster if your theater offers them.
If you live in the Tampa Bay, you can check out Annie at the Straz. Call 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org. At all performances in Tampa, donations of primary school uniforms and other children’s clothing will be accepted at the Straz Center. I was given four tickets to the performance we attended.