ArtSpoken & Reviews

Oh my goodness, we need an Annie

Jennifer de Klerk
10/22/2016 12:19:53

Jennifer de Klerk: I have seen many different productions of Annie over the years, but this is the ultimate – no quibbles, no winces, in a word, it’s superb.

Annie, of course, is the one of those musicals with everything, a delightful heroine with both manners and sass, six cute little girls, wonderful character part for the adults, plenty of scope for a singing, dancing chorus in various scenarios, from New Yorkers, to footmen, butlers and housemaids and what looked like a re-take of Anchors Away, a real, waggy-tail dog and even the president of the United States. Oh yes, and a couple of criminals to spice up the deal.

Then, of course, there are so many songs and tunes that stick in the memory and have you whistling all the way home, such as “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Never Fully Dressed Without Smile” spiritedly rendered by the polished, confident, strong-voiced and well-characterised girls.

Charon Williams Ros enjoys herself immensely as the drunken, smarmy, man-eating (if possible), orphan abuser Miss Hannigan, especially in the bitter Little Girls. Taryn Sudding Is poised and warm as secretary Grace Farrell and Anton Luitingh (also resident director) is perfect as Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks. His NYC is a show-stopper and Something was Missing extremely poignant.

And, of course, there’s Annie. There are three Annies and three casts of girls. I saw Emma-Rose Blacher who was excellent, with a magnetic stage presence, natural acting and a powerful and expressive voice. She’s only 11, so keep your eye on her. The other two are Lilla Fleischmann and Caitlin Dicker and are sure to be equally talented. They all appeared in Pieter Toerien’s The Sound of Music.

Annie, of course, is an orphan who is taken in by billionaire Oliver Warbucks as his Christmas charity. When he offers a reward to find her parents, Miss Hannigan and her brother Rooster see a quick route to Easy Street.

The show is set in New York in 1933, the height of the Great Depression. The country has been economically wrecked by an inefficient president, Herbert Hoover, the stock market has fallen drastically, businesses and factories have closed, thousands of people are unemployed and forced to live under bridges in “Hoovervilles” (in other words, cardboard boxes), droughts and dust storms have ravaged the countryside.

Sound familiar?

The new government (yes, they had one) is despondent and despairing. And into this comes buoyant young Annie with the inspirational “Tomorrow – “The sun will come out, tomorrow, so you got to hang on ‘til tomorrow, come what may! Tomorrow, tomorrow I love ya tomorrow. You’re always a day away.”

Inspired, President Roosevelt and his sombre grey-jacked advisors come up with a New Deal which turns the country around.

I think we need an Annie.

Now that’s getting too philosophical for a family show. Right, the sound was impeccable, the lighting spot on, the choreography energetic and exciting, the bit parts well characterised, the accents (often my quibble) were just enough. Even Rooster (one of the baddies) crowed convincingly.

In case you haven’t already got the picture, this show is brilliantly directed by Nikolai Foster, acted, sung, played and danced by a South African cast. The music is under the direction of Bryan Schimmel with a 7-piece band.

Then there’s the dog, a cute sandy-coloured Labrador, who did exactly as he (sorry, I believe it’s she) should. Never act with animals or children, the old stage adage goes, they will always upstage you.

Too true, but the adults kept up their end admirably.

One word. Yes, this is a wonderful family musical, not a PG in sight, but it is NOT a children’s show. I recommend seven or eight as a starter. Don’t bring your babies to the show, mom and dad. You spoil it for everyone.

It’s a two and half hour show,  just over an hour to interval. If they can’t shut up and sit still for an hour without demanding cool drinks and loo breaks PLEASE, PLEASE leave them at home.

This is far too good a show … it is a crime to be distracted.

Annie is at the Teatro, Montecasino until November 27

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of
Related Venue:
Montecasino Complex, Fourways Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa