A polite smattering of applause rang around The Regent Theatre at the conclusion of last nights opening of Annie. Then came a hesitant standing ovation almost out of forced habit. For this production of Annie, filled with a cast of the highest order, was performed with a great deal of precision and technicality, but which,however, left me with an ambivalent feeling of....oh yeah. Australian theatre royalty Anthony Warlow and Nancye Hayes take on the roles of Daddy Warbucks and Miss Hannigan. The pairs acting skill is both effortless and flawless and we all know Warlow's voice cuts deep into the crevices of our own body and has the ability to illicit spontaneous excitement within us.
Julie Goodwin as Grace matches it with Warlow vocally and Todd McKenney as Rooster has us fixated on his movement throughout Easy Street. Caitlin Marks undertakes the enormous task of playing Annie and it's a performance that she warms into throughout the show. While 'Maybe' started a little nervously, and who could blame her, by the time we got to 'Tomorrow', Marks provides one of the nights highlights, a still, gentle moment with her and new found furry friend Sandy. The other two highlights of the night come from the orphan girls in the form of Hard Knock Life and You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile Reprise. The attack and energy that these young girls have is at the level of a seasoned ensemble.
The orchestra under Musical Director Peter Casey hum along tranquilly. The lavish set design from Kenneth Foy is unfortunately undone with some particularly amateurish and unnecessary projections which only detract from the onstage action and Kristian Fredrikson's costumes are as elegant a design on a Modern Stage and precisely capture the essence of 1930's New York.
So the show got me thinking...how does a 1970's musical, set in the 30's fit in 2012? Sure we love the notion that through economic struggle and hardship the sun will come out tomorrow, but sometimes it just doesn't and this is how I was left feeling at the end of the show. I wasn't moved or wowed, but I was appreciative of the performances and the quality of them. I wasn't inspired or overjoyed, though I know that most children will be and if this alone is what Annie brings to 2012 then that far outweighs the...oh yeah that I was left feeling at its conclusion.