Review: ANNIE at Folketeatret

Muscial Theatre Nostaligia at its Finest

By: Nov. 24, 2023
Review: ANNIE at Folketeatret
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Review: ANNIE at Folketeatret

The iconic red curls and indomitable spirit of little orphan Annie once again graced the Norwegian stage in a heart-warming production that captured the essence of optimism and resilience. The latest rendition of "Annie" at Folketeatret proved to be a delightful and nostalgic journey for both long-time fans and newcomers to this classic musical. From the moment the overture started it was obvious we were getting a classic yet, fresh take. The solo trumpet playing the main theme before the full orchestra came in, all the while an animated movie was shown where we see the whole journey from Oslo as the audience was transported to the world of 1930s New York City. The curtain lifted to reveal the dreary, massive yet charming orphanage set. The attention to detail in the set design by Petr Hlousek, created a rich and immersive backdrop for the unfolding tale. The use of LED projection gave the each scene an extra level of theatrical magic.

Impressive performances
The titular role of Annie was expertly portrayed by young talent, Thelmine Vanay Olafsen. Her rendition of "Tomorrow" was a showstopper, showcasing not only her vocal prowess, but also her ability to convey the unwavering hope that defines Annie's character. Her chemistry with Sandy, the lovable canine companion, added an additional layer of heart-warming charm to the production.

The main cast, particularly Miss Hannigan played by the dynamic Henriette Steenstrup, brought a perfect balance of humor and villainy to the stage. She hates children, but she does love alcoholic beverages and stealing the spot light. Steenstrup’s comedic timing and expressive performance captured the essence of the larger-than-life character, eliciting laughter from the audience with every exasperated sigh and eye roll. She also got to show her vocal range, and for this character it was perfect. We have already praised André Søfteland's voice in previous reviews, but as Oliver Warbucks Søfteland got to show his softer sides both in voice and acting. I was moved by his proposal of adoption to Annie during "Something Was Missing" in act two. Sanne Kvitnes' portrayal of Grace Farrell, the personal secretary and assistant to Warbucks is caring, kind and firm when needed. Kvitnes shows a stronger character than what was originally written, and that is appreciated. Her voice sounds wonderful, although she may be a little over qualified for this role. Gunnar Eiriksson and Ida Holten Worsøe plays the villainous couple, who with Miss Hannigan's aid, plot to abduct Annie and get Warbuck's money. They prove to be a success with both the children and grownups alike. And the three of them do an amazing rendition of "Easy Street". A true display of showstopper and vulgarity.

Review: ANNIE at Folketeatret

While there are multiple casts for the children, the opening night was amazing, with many bright young stars of tomorrow (pun intended). They all act, sing and dance with presicion and flair. And when they did "You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" they got a highly deserved thunderous applause.

There are many supporting players who deserves special mention. Øyvind Boye Løvold does a wonderful job as President Roosevelt, and his presence is always welcomed. Carl Martin Prebensen is a sleazy yet charming Bert Healy, and Fransiska Sveinall gets a much deserved moment to shine in the spotlight as Star-To-Be during the New York number. The entire ensemble is amazing as always.

An eye for detail
It is a real coup that Scenekvelder have gotten Samuel Harjanne to direct this show. He is one of the best musical theatre directors working in Northen Europe right now. He embraces the music in his direction, instead of treating it as an annoyance (like they did in the recent Frozen). He has a good eye for details and that is often what transforms a good scene into a great one. Little details such as Annie mimicking Warbucks during his telephone calls, or politicians needing help with the lyrics during "Tomorrow".

Review: ANNIE at Folketeatret

   

The musical numbers, under the direction of Bendik Eide, were executed with precision and energy. It is impressive that a nine piece band sounds so rich and full. The choreography by Maria Wulcan, reminiscent of traditional Broadway dance, felt fresh and well-suited to the era. The ensemble's renditions of classics like "It's a Hard Knock Life" and "N.Y.C" were lively and engaging.

One of the highlights of the production was the set change from Warbucks' mansion, into the crowded streets of New York using both LED projection and the revolving stage. The use of lighting and sound, Palle Palmé and Ulf Erlend Haave, respectively, added depth to the scenes.

Classic tale. with a modern pulse
While "Annie" remains a beloved musical, this particular production managed to infuse it with a renewed sense of vitality. It pays homage to the classic Broadway production, while infusing it with a more modern energy without it becoming too "obvious" or "on the nose". The clever use of modern technology in combination of big impressive scenery is a treat to witness. I was also very impressed by Tinja Salmi's detailed and wonderful costumes. My twelve year old niece, especially loved the women's dresses. She said they were "totally awesome".

In conclusion, Scenekvelder’s latest production of "Annie" is a delightful and family-friendly spectacle that captures the timeless magic of this beloved musical. Thelmine Vanay Olafsen's portrayal of Annie, coupled with strong supporting performances and a visually impressive production, makes this a must-see for those seeking a nostalgic journey back to the heartwarming world of Little Orphan Annie. A strong five roll on the dice from me.

 


Annie

By: Thomas Meehan, Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse.
Norwegian translation: Atle Halstensen
Producer: Karianne Jæger
Director: Samuel Harjanne
Choreography Maria Wulcan
Scenic and video design: Petr Hlousek
Costume design: Tinja Salmi

With: Thelmine Vanay Olafsen, Henriette Steenstrup, André Søfteland, Sanne Kvitnes, Gunnar Eiriksson, Ida Holten Worsøee, Øyvind Boye Løvold, Preben Moseid, Sindre Bjørke Høyang, Carl Martin Prebensen, Søren Mørkrid Thøgersen, Fransiska Sveinall, Josephine Gracia, Helene Winter, Cornelia Børnick, Birgitte Velsvik, Children:
Aurora Hovde Gilbert, Hedda Loven, Adeiya Galin, Ella Clio Folkestad, Henny Stålhand Arnø, Emmy Allum Rønstad, Othilie Loftesnes Gilbrant




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