If you’re looking for a family friendly event, date night idea, night of the arts or just a whole lot of entertainment, laughter and good food, you can’t go wrong with Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre in Nashville. Last night was opening night of the hilarious and touching production of “Annie”; The story of “Little Orphan Annie”, a comic strip, created by Harold Gray (1894–1968), which got its name from the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley.
The storyline follows the wide-ranging adventures of little red haired orphan Annie, her dog Sandy (played by an adorable, real live dog at Chaffin’s), and her benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. The “bad guy” is Miss Hannigan, the mean spirited, spiteful, drunkard orphanage mother.
From the moment Dietz Osborne, who plays Miss Hannigan’s evil brother Rooster, took the stage to welcome everyone and announce special occasions, the room was alight with an ambience of family, friendship and good times. In what could have been an awkward moment of silence, while awaiting a list, Osborne took a suggestion yelled out from the audience and delivered a very talented impromptu tap dance. After announcing the birthdays of audience members, the waiters entered the stage for a artistic rendition of Happy Birthday. The evening had begun very well.
One of the most endearing qualities of Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre (The Barn), is the stage that drops down from the ceiling, with actors frozen in place. The stage is small, musicians off to the side in a huddle, dressed in black so as not to take any undue attention. The props are few, making the changing of scenes seamless, effortless, giving you the feeling that the room changes magically.
Opening night of any live production is notorious for its flaws, almost as though it’s the last dress rehearsal. Yet, this The Barn’s opening night of “Annie” went off with no more mishap than a slight misspoken word on a couple of occasions. The stillness of all the young girls in the audience gave testament to the fact that the play was riveting and a mad success. The ringing of laughter throughout the room was infectious, as were the numbers performed by the “orphans” and adult actors alike.
On a personal note, I must say that when I saw the entire ensemble lined up at the door to meet and greet the guests as we left the building last night, I was moved and extremely impressed; this is not something that happens in today’s world. But, it does at Chaffin’s and I salute them for a job well done. Applause.
From The Barn:
OPTIMISTIC ORPHAN PROMISES
“THE SUN’LL COME OUT TOMORROW”
In this classic Broadway musical, plucky Orphan Annie is given the opportunity to spend the day with billionaire tycoon, Oliver Warbucks. Annie believes her parents will be back for her, so Warbucks offers a reward to anyone who can find her parents. Miss Hannigan, the gin- guzzling orphanage matron concocts a wicked plan to collect the reward using her crooked brother and his dimwitted girlfriend as more than willing accomplices. Their scheme is foiled, and along the way Annie inspires FDR’s “New Deal”- a delightful evening for the entire family.
The show is directed by Barn Artistic Director Martha Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson has appeared in and directed numerous shows at Chaffin’s. Most recently Ms. Wilkinson directed Til Beth Do Us Part. She was seen recently performing in Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s The 39 Steps and Pump Boys and Dinettes.
The show’s musical director is Jaclyn Brown. Jaclyn has been seen on Chaffin’s stage as multi-talent Denise Sanders in the Smoke on the Mountain trilogy as well as in the audience favorite, The Bop She Bops. Jaclyn directs The Nashville Caroling Company, a professional a cappella holiday caroling quartet (www.thenashvillecarolingcompany.com), and runs “Chick Singer Night” at the Bluebird Cafe, the nation’s longest running songfest for female artists. Jaclyn sings in the recording studio for clients such as LifeWay Baptist, Hershey Park, Methodist Publishing House, Matt Davenport Productions, G4 Productions, and countless songwriter demos. Her favorite song is whatever she wrote this morning. Pick up her newest CD, Paper Doll, at www.jaclynbrown.com. Choreographer for Annie is Bakari King. Mr. King performs, directs and choreographs for several venues in Nashville including Street Theatre Company and Lamplighters. He holds a B.S. from Faulkner University and is the theatre instructor for the middle school at USN.
The cast for ANNIE includes: Willy Mayo, Rosemary Fossee, Amanda Lamb, Jenny Noel, Jenny Light, Jennifer Richmond, Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva, Bryce Conner, Daron Bruce, Justin Pike, Ken Dale Thompson, Lane Wright, Christina Spitters as Grace, Holly Shepherd as Miss Hannigan, Will Sevier as Daddy Warbucks, Dakota the Dog as “Sandy” and double cast as “Annie” is Haley Covington and Stella London. Haley’s recent theatre credits include Hume Fogg’s production of Les Miserables (Little Cossette) and Oak Hill School’s Seussical (Young Kangaroo). Haley has appeared in several regional television commercials and was the 2010-2011 Nashville Children’s Theatre Spokeskid. Stella was most recently seen in the critically acclaimed, local premier of 13 the Musical with Circle Players. In the summer of 2008 she made her theatre debut with Metro Parks Young Performers (MPYP) as Milky White in Into the Woods. Other credits include: Oliver and Titanic the Musical with Circle Players, Gotta’ Be Broadway, Singing the 60’s andWinter Song with MPYP, and Nellie in Annie Get Your Gun andBeauty at the Keeton. In 2010 she performed at the Keeton as Susan in White Christmas, Tootie in Meet Me in St.Louis, and Jo-Jo in Seussical.
The orphans are double cast as well and those casts include: Diana Richards, Bryanna Richards, Cate Tucker, Riley Clemmons, Kaila Wooten, Karissa Wheeler, Robin August Fritsch, Suzanna Perri, Charlotte Staggs, Reagan Meyers, Zoey Marie Hutton, Faith Davenport, Yael Mead, Anna Strauss ,Virginia Richardson ,Hope Dyra, Mackenzie Roberts, Victoria Thompson, Addie Leonard, Jessilyn Warren, Emma Brugman, Abby Ekas, Cheyenna Johnston, Ruby Lotus, Katherine Light, Claudia Bennett and Madeline Bennett.
Call 615-646-9977 to book your spot for an evening of fine food and entertainment! Ask the box office about our money saving sampler memberships and our group rates! Find out more at dinnertheatre.com.
SPECIAL MOMMY AND ME MATINEE TO BENEFIT MIRIAM’S PROMISE SUNDAY AUG 07, HOUSE OPENS AT 1230, SHOW AT 2PM. Since 1985, Miriam’s Promise has offered hope and healing to thousands of families as they suffer from issues of grief, loss and transition. The heart of our mission is to ensure the well-being of children—before, during and after birth. Through our program of services which include pregnancy counseling, domestic and international adoption, attachment therapy and counseling for pregnant incarcerated females, we have been making a difference in the Middle Tennessee area. $5 from each full price dinner and show ticket will go to this very worthy organization. This special matinee will include kid friendly displays and merchandise from local merchants, some surprise guests, a yummy buffet and the chance to meet Annie and her dog Sandy after the show and have your picture taken!
Come experience Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre’s experience with over 40 years of success and see why Chaffin’s was voted one of the Top 10 tourist attractions in Nashville and voted # 1 by YOU for “Best Buffet” and “Best Place to See a Play” in Nashville in The Tennessean’s 2008 Toast of Music City contest. Call now to secure your “year round ticket to Broadway” at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre –THE ORIGINAL BARN since 1967! Outside Tennessee? Call 1-800-282-2276.