Printable CopyANNIE
Northern Light Theatre Company
Shedley Theatre
Until 28 Oct 2017

Review by Maggie Wood

The red-haired moppet graced the stage of the Shedley with a refreshing breeze of ingenuity, a measure of schmaltz and an honest-to-goodness feel-good vibe.

“Annie” is an uncomplicated musical that tells the story of the little orphan girl who infects whomever she meets with her optimism, and ends up being adopted by billionaire Daddy Warbucks.

This Northern Light Theatre Company production is an absolute treat.

Musical Director Kate Packer’s band gets the audience singing along right from the start and Laura Brook’s choreography puts the large cast through its paces with economy and style.

In particular the excellence of the orphan girls’ ensemble is well worth a mention. These performers acted, danced and sang through some challenging choreography, and they hit their marks every time – an absolute delight.

Similarly, direction by Fran Edwards, ably helped by Assistant Director Sue Pole, has the many cast members all providing tableaux of characterisations, while good use of follow spot allows the large stage to be made more intimate when required.

The title role of Annie is played wonderfully by Holly Abbott. Miss Abbott’s skill and poise cannot be argued, and her voice is glorious.

Gavin Cianci as Daddy Warbucks is all distinguished grey hair and charm as the billionaire whose heart melts for the little orphan girl, and Nikki Gaertner-Eaton as Warbucks’ assistant Grace Farrell gets a good opportunity to display her acting and singing chops.

One of the treats of this production is the chance to see Robyn Brookes lush her way across this stage as the gin-soaked Miss Hannigan. This performance alone is worthy of the ticket price.

Brookes goes to town, bringing all of her theatre skills to create a Miss Hannigan that is at once hilarious and sad. After all, comedy is pain and Miss Hannigan’s pain, seen in every bitter mouthful of gin and rueful grimace towards those pesky little girls, brings another burst of laughter.

There is always one cast member who will get the chance to play only one or two scenes and yet steal the show. This time it’s the turn of Toby the dog, playing Annie’s stray hound Sandy. The pooch’s facial expression towards the auditorium had the audience giggling while Annie sang her heart out. Showing their professionalism, neither Sandy nor Annie missed a beat and kept going through the laughs.

If you’re looking for a feel-good night out, “Annie” is a sure bet.

*Fran Edwards and Nikki Gaertner-Eaton are both members of the Adelaide Theatre Guide team.