Wednesday 4th January 2012.
Reviewed by: Teagan Lowe.
Producer: John Frost.
Director: Karen Johnson-Mortimer.
Starring: Anthony Warlow, Nancye Hayes, Todd McKenny, Chloe Dallimore, Julie Goodwin, Siena Elchaar.
Brilliantly detailed sets, cute & highly trained dogs, amazing projections, well-suited & dazzling choreography and a cast of exceedingly energetic and outstanding performers. This exciting new production of the much-loved Broadway musical, Annie, produced by John Frost, and skillfully directed by Karen Johnson-Mortimer, has really set the 2012 bar high for our fortunate Sydney audiences.
Set in the midst of the Great Depression, an optimistic orphan Annie, played on this evening by the angelic Siena Elchaar, who’s performance was beyond her years, endlessly searches for her parents. She is forever dodging the schemes and backbreaking labour of Miss Hannigan. Hannigan is hysterically & magnificently performed by show business legend herself, Nancye Hayes, whos wit and over the top antics are all timed, portrayed and delivered perfectly.
Unbeknown to all, Annie is soon to be adopted by the ‘Zillionaire’ Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, performed by one of the greatest theatrical talents Australia has produced, Anthony Warlow. Warlow, who’s is back reprising one of his all time favourite roles, portrays Mr. Warbucks with genuine warmth and humility that resonates strongly. But it is, as always his exquisite & powerful voice that carries each piece of his performance from strength to strength.
The motivating & encouraging tune “Tomorrow” and catchy “Easy Street” were two of the memorable hits to come from the show. And it cannot go unmentioned that the beautiful little girls playing the NYC orphans, performed “It’s a Hard Knock Life”, as if their actual lives depended on it, and it was as powerfully entertaining as it was brilliant.
Although the show hasn’t all quite come together yet, with inflections and accents coming in and out at times and some dialogue being lost or overlapped, the overall strength of the performance more than compensated for the slightly under-rehearsed moments.
Stage & television favourite, Todd McKenny’s ability to entertain not only through his dancing, but his entire performance, had him, alongside a personal favourite of mine, Chloe Dallimore, nearly stealing the show in a few brief scenes as Rooster Hannigan and the bubbly, vivacious gal pal Lily St. Regis. Their antics & charisma light up the stage with each and every entrance.
The sparkling ensemble excel with Kelly Aykers’ vibrant & energetic choreography, coupled with the compelling score and lyrics by Charles Strouse & Martin Charnin, really tie the whole production together. Each should be well acknowledged and proud of their wonderful performances, as should the set and projection designers. Their remarkable sets and seamless transitions through the use of many projections, allowed the audience to almost feel as though we too were on the same journey as the cast.
You know your event at the theatre has been a thoroughly enjoyable night, when you leave toes tapping, melodies flowing and have an audience buzzing (both adults and children alike), and this is exactly what surrounded me as I left the Lyric Theatre tonight after seeing this gloriously entertaining new musical. Annie will remain one of the most loved and universally appealing musicals of all time and this production with it’s highly talented performers, humorous nuances, abundance of glorious dance numbers and optimistic outlook will certainly keep the strong love and audience appeal alive for our privileged Australian audiences.