|Lydia Milosavljevic and Clare Pinketon with Maverck|
Presented by Phoenix Players
ANU Arts Centre until October 19th
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
There are good reasons why the musical “Annie” is among the most frequently revived musicals among both professional and amateur companies. Set in depression-era New York, Its tuneful score and appealing story about a relentlessly optimistic young orphan girl, who is plucked from a run-down orphanage by a billionaire, who enlists the help of the American President to find her parents, offer excellent opportunities for star performances, and delightful roles for child actors.
Lydia Milosavljevic, who alternates the role with Clare Pinkerton, is delightful as Annie. Acting confidently and possessing a clarion clear voice, she gives a feisty performance in the central role. Judy Satrapa is strangely subdued as the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. She certainly looks the part, but could sharpen her attack more to fully exploit the comedic possibilities of the role. She receives good support from Dim Ristevski (Rooster) and Maigan Fowler (Lilly).
It seemed a strange decision for Don Bemrose to play Daddy Warbucks with a full head of slicked-back hair, given that the role is based on an iconic bald-headed comic strip character, however he brought a fine singing voice and strong presence to the role, though little chemistry.
Miranda Cookman was an attractive Grace Farrell, and Bill Lord an appropriately stately President Roosevelt.
Directed by Kelda McManus, this is an ambitious production from Phoenix Players. There are many effective moments, an irresistible children’s ensemble, a huge cast and a terrific band under Rose Shorney. Pity therefore that on opening night the show appeared under-rehearsed with the ensemble scenes lacking the expected polish, and the sparkle dulled by technical problems with scenery and lighting.
This review appears in the digital edition of CITY NEWS and in the print edition from October 9