Review: ANNIE at Harlequin Musical Theatre

A tale of Optimism, Hope and KIndness - A must see!

By: Nov. 18, 2020
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Review: ANNIE at Harlequin Musical Theatre

If 2020 could be summed up perfectly in a show, that show would be ANNIE!

In a Covid year surely the importance of the themes of grit, determination, looking out for each other and never giving up hope that, the sun WILL come out tomorrow, was no doubt not anticipated by Harlequin Musical Theatre when the decision was made to produce this show.

After several false scheduling changes as Covid flowed and ebbed through New Zealand, Harlequin producers, cast, creatives and techs fervently believed that they would triumph through all the Covid hard knock life.

And what a triumph this production of Annie is!

First goodie is just walking into the theatre to take your seat - the set is impressive and imposing. Designed by Robin Lane ( also the Director) and Chris Close it moved from an impressive home of a multi-millionaire, to the orphanage and a haven for street people to gather, seamlessly.

The creative team played brilliantly to the strengths of this cast. Director Robin Lane has a great eye for what looks good on stage and his one of his strengths is enabling his actors to develop as individual characters. He certainly has shown his directorial talent in this only his second Musical!

Choreographer Sasha Matsumoto, supported by Olivia Morrison and Paula Ferguson, gave us exciting and very well drilled dance that certainly enhanced the story and was entertaining.

The vocals are particularly strong from all the leads, but especially from the adult ensemble and the wonderful Orphans - these young people are true triple threats. Last night I saw the Roosevelt cast, but I am assured the Hoover cast are every bit as polished.

Musical direction tasks are shared between Kerry Priestly and Andrew Christie - both of whom bring many years of success and talent to every show with which they are involved. Aided in this show by a very accomplished orchestra.Review: ANNIE at Harlequin Musical Theatre

Annie on the night was Sarah Adams. She plays the role honestly and with no artifice, making Annie spirited with a kind heart, and a firm conviction of right and wrong. A strong performer, equally talented in singing, acting and dancing.

Youngster Emily Brown, seen recently as Gretl in The Sound Of Music, has a few scene stealing opportunities. She is fierce and funny.

Miss Hannigan is played by Nicolette Nes. Last seen by this reviewer playing Maria in The Sound OF Music, this role certainly is the antithesis of that one. Nes is delightfully vile as the woman who has lost the plot due to too many "little girls" and far too much booze! Her comedic flair well utilised in the role!

Nice smaller roles by her cohorts in subterfuge Simon Chapman and Raquel Carter playing Rooster and Lily. Both have a nice feel for evil and comedy!

Oliver Warbucks ( Sam Iosefo) and Grace Farrell ( Lauren Coffey) are charming and although we are all well aware that they are destined for each other, watching their polite journey into romance is a pleasure to watch unfolding so slowly.

A couple of noteworthy performances in cameo roles came from the butler Drake, (Jordan Henare), and John Maloney playing Franklin D Roosevelt.

The standout performer has no lines, no songs, no dance moves but with four legs- Sandy, Annie's dog is played by an Australian Shepherd named Louie. This actor hits all his marks, looks at Annie adoringly, is poised and very comfortable with whatever is happening on stage. Congratulations to Dog Trainer Maryanne Rushton. He is a true star.

Costumes were en pointe with the wardrobe team led by Louise Griffiths who has a great eye for detail.

Lighting and Sound added to a really well-rounded team.

Annie is on from 14th to 28th November - book at iTicket.

Photo Credit : Matt Maingay


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