Annie The Musical Review by Lynn Carroll

July 19, 2023

They say never work with children or animals, well Annie certainly and very thoroughly disabused us of that theory. The blend of children, adults and one adorable canine made for a show of outstanding fun and laughter, with the odd emotional scene just to keep things in balance.

I would be hard put to think of a show I have enjoyed more at the Cliffs Pavilion and if you are a regular reader you will know I am sometimes critical of shows adapted from film. In this instance, however, I did my homework and found that Annie actually began as a Broadway musical in 1977 followed by, to date, three film versions, the first one released in 1982. This time I could find nothing to criticise in this particular translation to stage from that original film, the only other version I have seen.

Prior to arrival I must admit to having qualms as to who could play Daddy Warbucks to my satisfaction. I had the image of Albert Finney firmly lodged in my brain and felt sure no one could ever match his portrayal. How wrong can you be? Alex Bourne was a delight and gave Warbucks a totally believable persona pitched at exactly the right level for a billionaire with a heart. Suave and intelligent and as my guest put it during the interval: He’s really cool.

Every member of the cast deserve a special mention but it goes without saying that the orphanage girls put their heart and soul into this show. Their timing, acting ability and stage presence would put many an adult actor to shame, but not in this production I hasten to add. Even Sandy the dog appeared to do all that was expected of her, on cue, and eliciting lots of ‘aaaahhs’ from the audience. Yes, the dog had her own bio in the programme and from that I knew her to be female.

Annie, by definition, could be said to have stolen the show and indeed the young actor’s professionalism and portrayal of the sad orphan, convinced her parents would one day appear to ‘rescue’ her, was exceptional for one of such tender years.

Rooster, played by Paul French, seemed to revel in his role as one half of the ‘baddie’ couple who by pretence try to claim Annie as their own in order to get their mitts on the $50,000 reward. I particularly enjoyed his animal sounds, don’t ask, you will have to see the show to understand that one!

And then there was Craig Revel Horwood in the role of Miss Hannigan. Let me say right off the bat that I had expected this part to be played with a far more exaggerated or even farcical element to it and was a little disappointed at his entrance being rather less than flamboyant. However, with hindsight I can now appreciate that once again he (and I presume the director) got it spot on. Overplaying the part would have cast the other actors into the shade, but he totally convinced me that he was an embittered, gin swilling, unhappy woman who should not be played purely for comic laughs.

Referring again to my second paragraph, I found this show left no doubt or confusion as to the storyline, it flowed along without some of the more disjointed stories that seem to lose their way on stage. Don’t be fooled by the subject matter, this one has a warmth, joy and content that will appeal to most age groups. I would not recommend it for very young children as several in the audience became fretful and fidgety, but if you want the Summer holidays to start with a bang you can’t do better than to see this dazzling performance on a family outing. Miss it at your peril!


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