Presented by Northern Light Theatre Company
Reviewed 13 October 2017
The sun will come out tomorrow but it was still a bit cloudy for opening night of Northern Light Theatre Company’s promising musical, Annie.
The mixed bag of successes – and otherwise – was most prominently highlighted by the stellar casting of Holly Abbott as Annie and, on the flip side, some disastrous technical issues with enormous backdrop projections.
In the title role, directors Fran Edwards and Sue Pole struck gold with young Abbott, whose wonderful voice, beautiful smile and cheeky looks all brought Little Orphan Annie to loveable life. She looked, sounded and acted the part. So did Robyn Brookes in her outstanding performance as drunken, nasty orphanage manager, Miss Hannigan. But, “oh, my goodness”, let’s not forget the adorable orphan Molly, successfully cute in the capable hands of pint-sized Jacinta Atterton.
A shining moment in the production was the orphans’ reprise of the song Fully Dressed, complete with a tap dance. It not only shone a torch on the talent of the whole orphan ensemble, but it pulled off a showstopper where others had failed, most notably the first time that Easy Street was heard.
If you don’t know what Annie is about, then you’re missing out! It’s the cutest, feel-good story of an 11-year-old optimistic orphan who changes hearts wherever she goes. After being taken in by billionaire Oliver Warbucks, she brings love into his childless household and finally finds a family for herself. It’s based on a 1920s comic strip by Harold Gray and has been adapted for radio and film. The stage musical was written by Thomas Meehan with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. It features some political commentary of the time but, more importantly, a swag of memorable songs including Easy Street, Hard Knock Life and the show’s biggest hit, Tomorrow.
Not all the songs are sung successfully in this production. Musical director Katie Packer pushed some cast members beyond their limits and she failed to make the adult chorus sound like a chorus. There were several times when stronger individual voices carried over the top instead of being toned down and blended into the chorus. Yet her 13-piece band was a delight.
Laura Brook effectively kept the dances simple and tight. Her choreography seemed natural to the action and was executed well. More kudos must go to the backstage crew however, whose speedy scene changes were so efficient that they’d be at home in a professional production. Bravo!
The second weekend of Annie is sure to be a tighter, smoother show… Maybe. There’s some real talent on stage, not just the few I’ve mentioned here, so there’s every reason to be as optimistic as Annie. The promise of that sun coming out is evident.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Venue: Shedley Theatre, Playford Civic Centre, Elizabeth
Season: 13 October – 28 October 2017
Duration: 2.5 hours
Tickets: $30 Adults, $25 Concession, $20 Children
Bookings: SA Seat Advisor