Review by: Amanda Barton
Venue: The Gaiety Theatre
Tickets: €27 – €42.50
Director: Rodger Hannah
Author: Book by Thomas Meehan; Music by Charles Strouse; Lyrics by Martin Charnin.
Cast Includes:Su Pollard, cure David McAllister and Audrey LeBourne
The story of Annie as a Broadway musical began in 1977 and was based on the popular comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray which followed the adventures of Annie, cialis her dog Sandy and her benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. This classic tale of rags to riches is brought to life in The Gaiety by the great performances of Su Pollard who plays the miserable matron Miss Hannigan and David McAlister as the billionaire Warbucks. The production is directed by Roger Hannah with musical supervision by Mark Crossland and design by Alan Miller Bunford.
We begin in The Muncipal Girls Orphanage at 3am, the lights gently turn up to reveal three plain, simple beds in a bare room with no trace of finery, which gradually we find are packed full of still sleeping orphans. The youngest orphan, Molly, is awoken by a nightmare and the remaining girls then wake up to hear the ritual of Annie comforting her with the note that her parents gave to her in 1922 when she was left on the steps of the orphanage.
Annie is now eleven years old and her parents still have not fulfilled their promise to come back and get her, and it is in the very first song “Maybe” that we get the first glimpse of her ever shining optimism. This bleak setting is made suddenly so colourful by the fantastic harmonies of the orphans singing “Hard Knock Life” with buckets full of attitude. The little Molly does an out-standing performance here and is, throughout the show, a little ray of sunshine on the stage.
The Acts run ever so smoothly into each other, and the set design is really spectacular with great attention to detail. In particular, the Warbucks mansion Christmas scene and the New York City night scene stand out for not only their production value but also for their impact. Each of these scenes sparkle with the vocal performances of all the cast, in songs such as “NYC”, “I think I’m Gonna Like it Here” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Miss Hannigan’s brother Rooster and his floozy girlfriend Lily are excellent villains considering they have relatively small parts, and the only surprise for an audience over familiar with the film adaptation may be how quickly everything gets resolved.
The actress who played Grace gives a graceful performance, as does the one and only Annie. The only down side to her performance is that her renowned mop of curly red hair is non-existent until the Christmas party. The only other negative to this production would be that good old Sandy was a bit too old, and was quite noticeably tired on stage. Although this did add humour, despite it being unintentional.
All that aside, a really excellent show, lively and heartfelt, and at times, awe inspiring.