Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Martin Charnin. Holroyd Musical and Dramatic Society. The Red Gum Centre, Wentworthville. April 13 - 21, 2018

HMDS's production of the classic Depression themed musical Annie was a great retelling of the well-known story about the red-headed optimistic, orphan and her chance adoption by the Billionaire Oliver Warbucks.

Director Olivia Linas and her cast gave a very well gelled and polished Opening Night performance.

The show opened with an action sequenced overture, which was a delight to see and gave the audience an immediate insight to the title character Annie, played on opening night by Sami Dinnerville.

We then see inside the orphanage run by the drunk and horrible Miss Aggie Hannigan (Elizabeth Lowrencev). Annie and the orphans gave a lot of energy in these scenes. A special mention must go to the youngest orphan Molly (Vanessa Jackson) who delivered her lines with Annie wonderfully, while her characterisation was spot on. The orphans performance of the well-known song “Hard Knock Life” was a well choreographed hit, as performed by all the young girls.

Sami's performance of her solo song “Tomorrow” showed some signs of nervousness in her voice, but she performed the song well even when there were microphone issues.

Signs of the Great Depression were quite evident in the ensemble number “Hooverville”, highlighted by the costumes used and the set piece brought on with posters of “Hoover”. The song was delivered with conviction by the actors and the director did a great job with the numbers on such a small stage. Elizabeth Lowrencev belted out a very comical version of “Little Girls”.

Once Annie has been selected by Grace Farrell, played with “grace” by (Chloe Obreza), we see the set change to the Warbucks Mansion. The transition was a little clunky, which I'm sure will be ironed out during the run. Daniel Taylor as Daddy Warbucks shone from his first dialogue and his awkwardness towards having a girl orphan at the mansion was clearly visible. This was nicely turned into a warmth and genuine care for the child throughout the show, before his final adoption of her towards the end. Daniel vocally was quite strong, especially in the numbers “N.Y.C” and later in act two of “Something was Missing”

The comical roles of Rooster Hannigan (James Carter) and Lily St Regis (Gabrielle Rawlings) were played well and they hammed up the number “Easy Street” with Miss Hannigan. This number though did seem over choreographed and looked a bit difficult, which showed on the faces of the performers.

The shorter Act Two had a few stand out moments including The Cabinet scene with President Roosevelt (Johnathan Hughes) and his array of ministers, with a terrific reprise of “Tomorrow”. The scenes with the dialogue between Annie and Warbucks were all acted brilliantly and the rapport they had on stage was very believable.

Musically the show sounded great lead, by Susan Brown, with a big full sound in every number, though some of the orchestra seemed restless throughout non-musical scenes which at points was distracting. Laurie Tancred's choreography was entertaining to the eye and looked effective with only some minor slip ups on Opening Night. First time director Olivia Linas has done an impressive job and her passion for this particular show shone throughout.

James Russell

Photographer: Glen Morgan

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