Entertainment

Richard Sabellico Returns to ’Annie’ & Theatre by the Sea

by Joe Siegel
Contributor
Wednesday Jul 17, 2013
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Director/Choreographer Richard Sabellico will be helming Theatre by the Sea’s production of "Annie," through Saturday, Aug. 10.

Inspired by the famous comic strip Little Orphan Annie, which first ran in the New York News in 1924, this heart-warming musical is the rags-to-riches story of plucky young Annie’s journey from a dreary New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks.

"Annie" made its Broadway debut in April 1977 and played 2,377 performances before closing in 1983. The show won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan), Best Original Score (music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin), and Best Choreography.


Sabellico believes the show’s enduring appeal is due to its focus on universal themes.

"(’Annie’) deals with basic human emotions," Sabellico told EDGE. "The need we have to be loved, the need we have to be redeemed."

It’s that sense of essential optimism and joy that permeate the show, according to Sabellico: "Everybody wants to see the world as a better place and Annie is a conduit that facilitates that kind of behavior. Good triumphs over evil."

Sabellico’s history with the show lasts for 30 years. He directed "Annie" at Theatre By The Sea in 1983, and played Rooster during the shows original run on Broadway. Other musicals Sabellico acted in were "Gypsy," "The Magic Show," and "A Chorus Line."

"I thought I had everything I ever wanted," Sabellico recalled. "I was playing a leading role in a hit Broadway show, I was making a good salary, and I was heavily involved with a guy who was in ’42nd Street’ at the time. I was living the dream that I wanted."

However, Sabellico felt unfulfilled and decided to take his career in a different direction.

"I stopped being an actor because I was no longer acting for the right reasons," Sabellico explained. "(Acting) was just a job to me. It was a way I could make a really good salary. The directing really spoke to me. I fell in love with the creative process of directing."

"Annie" will star Raquel Leifer as Annie. The evil Miss Hannigan will be played by Broadway veteran Jan Neuberger. The cast will also feature Todd Fenstermaker (Oliver Warbucks), Becca Gottlieb (Lily St. Regis), Tom Roberts (F.D.R.), Margaret Robinson (Grace Farrell), Nathaniel Shaw (Rooster Hannigan), and Macy as Sandy.

Annie’s orphan friends will be played by Jillian Leifer, Lilly McMahon, Jennifer Pamula, Nina Pezzello, Emma Senerchia, and Eva Senerchia.

Sabellico has a lot of admiration for Theatre by the Sea owner and operator Bill Hanney and the work he has done to refurbish the legendary performing venue. Hanney has made the theatre a place where creative personalities can thrive, Sabellico noted.

"It’s really a place that nurtures talent," Sabellico said, noting that working on ’Annie’ once more is a "labor of love."


"Annie" runs July 17 - August 10. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays. Show times are: Tuesday - Friday 8:00pm; Thursday 2:00pm; Saturday 4:00pm and 8:00pm; Sunday 3:00pm (first week only), 5:00pm, and 8:00pm (first week only). Tickets are $39, $49, & $59. Tickets are on sale now by calling (401) 782-8587, online at theatrebythesea.com, or in person at 364 Cards Pond Road, Wakefield, RI 02879. The 2013 Season is sponsored by WJAR - NBC 10 News.


Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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