Do you need a glass-half-full approach to cope with the modern world? Musical theatre can assist, especially Miranda Musical Society’s production of ANNIE. This current version showcases genuine, likeable optimism in a slick package.
The joyous individuals in the cast of orphans are a credit to their birth parents and the local musical group which is fostering their talent. Two casts of orphans alternate across the show’s run. I saw the so-called ‘Warbucks’ cast, which were pure energy from start to finish.
Amidst detailed period sets, props and stunning outfits, the children and adults on stage present their predicaments clearly. The New York accents, pre-war social and political climates and contrasts between the rich and poor are accurately portrayed.
Bella Thomas’ Annie strides onto the set, thankfully without a huge red afro wig. Her opening song ‘Maybe’ and all numbers following are delivered with a consistently clean and penetrating tone. Her characterisation charms and engages and her diction is clear and warm.
The expressive orphans emerge from wall-to wall bunks into their bucket-tossing first song, “It’s a Hard Knock Life”. This sets the bar high as far as musical numbers are concerned, but the standard is maintained in all numbers. This cast is exciting and well-choreographed whenever they grace the stage.
As in previous Miranda Musical Society productions, Chiz Watson provides a thorough and thoroughly entertaining exploration of her role. As the drunken and disillusioned Miss Hannigan in charge of the orphanage, Watson provides a notable performance. Her interaction with the young cast is superb, and they bounce off this well-constructed character. Watson’s Miss Hannigan radiates raucous razzamataz complete with feather boa as she augments the scheming ‘Easy Street’ trio. Her stage brother Rooster (Tim Wotherspoon) and comic success Lily St Regis (Nicole Butler) work well in this group environment also.
Andrew Symes provides a very well sung ‘Daddy’ Warbucks. He neatly approaches scenes struggling with whether to adopt orphan Annie. He negotiates his role with a sound and dashing nature. This is matched by his stylish dress and flashy dollar-sign-inspired scenic design. His commanding performance emphasizes an unwavering stoic and heroic side of the self-made millionaire model.
A versatile ensemble includes two dogs, high quality props and a gallery of caricatures which owe much to show’s creatives. Homeless ghettos, hot stars in radio studios, even hotter New Yorkers and high-level home help in fine formation are delightfully larger than life in fitting style for a refresher of this famous musical. Fluid tableaux and constant movement from humans and animals ensures the stage remains uncrowded.
A strong musical direction and playing which is clean and bold from the orchestra is the crowning glory for this production. Well-known tunes are revisited with vigour here. From realising a full texture to subtle accompaniment of solo and young voices, the music is well balanced. Quick set changes are made even swifter by the orchestral interludes prolonging emotions and providing reprises of previous motifs.
ANNIE in this current Sydney production plays at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre until Sunday September 14. Your tomorrow will be sunny after you enjoy this real, “New Deal’.
For more about Annie, visit http://www.MirandaMusicalSociety.com.au