This post is brought to you in partnership with Broadway in Portland. I received complimentary tickets to facilitate my post. Opinions are my own.

The sun WILL come out. (Do you believe it?)

As a parent (and especially as a parent who loves musical theater), I am always beyond excited when family shows come through Portland. 8 years ago, my son Henry had his first introduction to theater when I took him to Annie. And last night, 8 years later, I was able to take him again.

Although, make no mistake about it – Annie is not just for kids. In fact, I think Annie’s unyielding optimism is exactly what we all need to see, hear, and believe in. Her story is familiar. We all grew up with Annie. We daydreamed about having the run of the Warbucks mansion, thought about our “hard knock life” anytime we were made to do chores, belted out “Tomorrow” for various family members (probably to their chagrin), and shared a collective dislike of Miss Hannigan. And that story – and those timeless lyrics stuck with us – but it’s time for them to sink in and change us. As a child, I had no way of knowing I was singing the anthem for optimism – and now I realize it’s exactly what I need to be singing.

Annie is about so much more than a little girl who finds an unlikely family. It’s a reminder for all of us that the sun WILL come out tomorrow and a challenge to believe it. The truth? Lots of days will in fact be gray and lonely. The problem is, most of us start to believe ALL days will be that way – and we start to look for the rainclouds. Annie though? Annie looked for (and saw!) the sunbreaks. Whereas we have become so adept at making mountains out of molehills, Annie took the mountains she was given and ground them into dust with her pervasive hope. I would trade all of the money in the Warbucks bank account for a fraction of Annie’s determination to see and believe in the good.

And that’s why I love the theater. It’s story and music and passion and artistry flowing off the stage and affecting change. It’s magic.

Speaking of magic, Rainier (Rainiey) Treviño perfectly embodied Annie’s can-do spirit and absolutely SPARKLED on stage. (This will NOT be the last time you see this girl perform!) And just as in real life, we are bolstered by our friends, the ensemble of orphans was phenomenal. I was blown-away by the dynamic talent of these young performers.

Most of us will never have a Warbucks-sized bank account. But, Christopher Swan as Oliver Warbucks made me believe that everyone can have and experience a shift in perspective. Christopher Swan brilliantly portrayed the transformative power of love through his moving performance.

Every good story needs a “villain.” But it takes a rare and special talent to be so-dang likable as one. Stefanie Londino hilariously (and I’ll say poignantly) portrayed Miss Hannigan’s weary loneliness, giving us the perfect picture of a woman constantly teetering on the brink. It’s unfair for actors to be held up against well-known and beloved actors who have brought the same role to life – but I have to say that Stefanie Londino certainly gives Carol Burnett a run for her money. She was an absolute scene-stealer and I wanted to see more of her. (Sidenote: Any creative theater people out there, we need a follow-up musical called Hannigan, and you know where to find your leading lady.)

While the ENTIRE CAST was incredible (I could mention all of them by name), Julia Nicole Hunter was also perfectly cast, capturing all of Grace Farrell’s warmth and patience. Innately likable, Julia Nicole Hunter was the perfect compliment to every scene partner and made a meal out of the smallest of moments – a smirk – a comment – a glance. She was brilliant in this role.

Annie, directed by Jenn Thompson, features the iconic book and score, written by Tony Award® winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin. And it’s a must-see, whether you’ve seen the movie(s) 800 times or not. (Plus – there’s a dog – and an incredibly adorable dog at that. Way to go Kevin. You captured Portland’s heart last night!)

Annie will be in Portland at the Keller Auditorium through May 19th, however remaining tickets are understandably limited. Any remaining tickets can be found HERE.

Didn’t get tickets to Annie this time? There are some INCREDIBLE shows headed to Portland for the ’24/’25 Broadway season!! (I cannot wait!!) The ’24/’25 season brings extraordinary entertainment with a collection of highly anticipated touring productions direct from Broadway in addition to some returning crowd-pleasing favorites. (You are NOT going to want to miss out!)

The next play headed to the Keller Auditorium will be Girl from the North Country featuring the music of Bob Dylan. If you’re excited for this Portland debut, you can find out more by clicking HERE.

For information about all of the upcoming shows and to grab your tickets, head to → https://portland.broadway.com/shows/