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Gilgamesh Taggett stars in national tour of ‘Annie’

Colette Greenstein | 5/11/2017, 6 a.m.
At the age of 45, Taggett was cast as Oliver Warbucks in the national touring production of the musical “Annie,” ...
Issie Swickle (Annie) on the left; Gilgamesh Taggett (Oliver Warbucks) in center; and Ashley Edler (Grace) on the right. Photo: Joan Marcus

A natural-born performer since he was a child growing up in Caro, Michigan, Gilgamesh Taggett channeled his love for the arts into a career as an actor. His path to the theater stage wasn’t a straight line, however.

On the web

The Boch Center and The Madison Square Garden Company present the U.S. National Tour of “Annie,” now in its third smash year, at the Boch Center Wang Theatre May 9-21, 2017. For tickets and information, visit: www.anniethemusical.com.

Along the way, Taggett dabbled in wildly varying lines of work, including chef, juggler and fire-eater, wedding and club DJ, web designer, singer, director and comic book artist. In addition, he traveled across the U.S. and Europe to pursue his passion and love for storytelling. “I really think it’s the path that life teaches you that prepares you for what you’re going to do,” the actor says, speaking recently about landing his first national tour in 2014.

At the age of 45, Taggett was cast as Oliver Warbucks in the national touring production of the musical “Annie,” and it was worth the wait, he says. “I think I’m in a place in my life where I can appreciate it properly,” says the actor.

Truth in acting

Three years after taking on “Daddy” Warbucks, Taggett finds himself entrenched in the role. “What I really enjoy about playing Oliver is that he’s a human being. He’s a mensch. [But] not at the beginning of the show — he becomes one. He’s not a bad person. He’s just reacted to the situation of his life; the only way that he could,” explains Taggett.

The lifelong performer has long believed that the best acting is honest and truthful. “These are words that are bandied about and spoken about quite often,” he says, “but I don’t think people really understand what they mean. Putting on airs and affectations and all these things are what people think are tricks of the trade, and it can be really hard. It’s finding the truth of the character and being unafraid of it, embracing that truth regardless of how frightening it may be.”

“Annie,” which marks its 40th anniversary this year, is directed by Martin Charnin (the original lyricist and director) for the 19th time, with this production of the musical being a brand-new incarnation of the Tony Award-winning original.

Eternal themes

Despite taking place during the Great Depression, the beloved musical continues to resonate with audiences today, says Taggett, “because the story is truthful. It is honest.” He believes that “Annie” is not just a story about a “little red-haired girl who meets a billionaire and lives happily ever after.” For Taggett it’s much more than that. It’s about hope and optimism and never giving up, always fighting. “Those themes are immortal,” he says. “They’ll always exist and everybody can connect to that.”