You know that you are getting on with age when you almost tear up at such an innocent, heart-warming piece of musical theatre. Set in the Great Depression era of 1930s, Annie’s moral of not letting the bad times get you down is at once high-quality entertainment and an injection of optimism in these unpredictable times of global economic woes.
Production values are as high as any big-budget musical, flanking a top-notch and very well-rehearsed ensemble cast of British actors and Singaporean girls. Acting is along the lines of big campy movements, in the style of children’s programmes that we see on TV. Su Pollard played a nasty yet sympathetic Ms Hannigan. As the title-character's hope-to-be adoptive father Oliver Warbucks, David McAlister lived his character well though his singing showed obvious signs of discomfort, and Katie Howard as Annie, although pre-adolescent in age, played the part with all the skill, finesse and charisma of a veteran actress. Her voice showed a little hoarseness, perhaps as a result of opening night jitters and the tiring media call earlier in the day, but she nonetheless had the technique and preparation to pull off the big and long sings while performing intricate chorography and stagework at the same time.
The cast of orphans, consisting of British and Singaporean girls aged between 9 and 13, were most impressive in their teamwork. At no point was there a “UK vs SG" sentiment, at least not any that I can detect. 6 year-old Chloe Choo stole the show by dancing along and saying her lines perfectly in time with colleagues much bigger in age and size than her.
Nonetheless, neither a big budget nor the most talented cast can create a classic without a quality, relatable script and songs at its core. I believe that the world-wide success of Annie is due to its wide-eyed optimism that strikes a chord with many folks bogged down by the world’s troubles. One can’t help but chuckle at the scene where President Roosevelt orders his cabinet to take a break from their meeting of world affairs to sing a chorus of Tomorrow, before resuming their discussion with renewed optimism. So too will the audience sing along to the many refrains of this classic song when leaving the Sands Theatre with renewed hope in their hearts.
Annie is currently running till 4 August 2012. Check out the Events Page for tickets.