North Carolina Theatre
At Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
Through Aug. 1
On June 13, Little Orphan Annie ended its 86-year run on newspaper comics pages, finishing on yet another cliffhanger as the eponymous blank-eyed foundling is held captive by the “Butcher of the Balkans.” At this point, fewer than 20 newspapers still carried the strip.
Even with the strip gone (IDW Publishing has reprinted it in chronological omnibus editions), Harold Gray’s character has long outlived her Depression-era heyday, thanks to the nostalgic 1977 musical. With a new Broadway revival due in 2012, North Carolina Theatre’s production of Annie is a reminder of why the character and the concept remain so endearing—and oddly relevant.