FDR may have died in Hot Springs 69 years ago yesterday, but he was at his lively merriest in last night’s production of the musical Annie at the historic Opera House in Woodstock, IL, that little town made famous in the film Groundhog Day. The role of FDR is played to perfection by my old friend, former McDonald’s associate and Vietnam veteran Marine pilot Bud Jones.

I’d always wondered where the name Daddy Warbucks came from, and it occurred to me mid-performance that the soft-hearted industrialist’s name was a parody for war profiteer (War Bucks!), in this farce set in the depression and in the aftermath of WWI.

The rollicking play is performed on the historic Orson Wells Stage, where the actor, raised at a nearby boys home, made his theatrical debut at age 19 in 1934.

Annie is a delightful production, and the music and laughter lightly conceal a play based on cynical social commentary on the desperate America of the early 1930s. Annie continues at the Woodstock Opera House today and April 18, 19, 25, 26 and 27th. It’s a great evening out, in the company of Annie, Daddy Warbucks and the ineffable FDR.

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