Annie is essentially Oliver! with more girls and a happier tone. The play embodies a much lighter feel, and is filled with music which is pleasing to the ears, and more likeable characters to warm our hearts. In this production, Nottingham Operatic Society invariably ticked all those criteria, however certain aspects simply did not work. With a slow pace for everything to click into place, it resulted in a show which was good, but not great.
Annie (portrayed by Tilly Greentree) is the key cog in this musical wheel, and, much like Oliver, places a huge responsibility for the young lead. The story pivots around her and if not done well, everything falls out of place. However Greentree succeeded well in presenting her, embodying a carefree attitude which came off lovingly rather than obnoxious. Her characterisation may have come off a bit to forceful for some, however personally I felt it made the role more realistic. After all, Annie is a girl who has been in a despotic orphanage for 11 years, thus is right to standout a prove herself a feisty individual.
It was when the cast became a chorus that the performance really shone.
Yet, Greentree did have certain elements which really detracted from the role, especially when it came to vocals. The role has big solo numbers, and Greentree sounded excellent within the mid-register, however when swinging up into the higher notes, it was clearly noticeable that she was struggling. Again, whilst I immediately passed this off as nerves (and it might well have been) for such a substantial role who sings A LOT, I felt the casting could have opted for someone who could have sung a little better. Moreover, in reference to costume, the colour of wig was terrible. Although not really knowing the play I did know one key fact; Annie is a red-head. In this production, she was not. This was surprising as Greentree was definitely wearing a wig, so why it was decided by costuming to shade in a brunette tint astounded me.
Annie is the sort of musical which will please anyone for a light evening’s entertainment
When examining the rest of the cast, it was a general success. Simon Theobald (as Daddy Warbucks) and Kate Williams (Miss Hannigan) were notable standouts, carrying strong voices and grounded characters. However it was when the cast became a chorus that the performance really shone, hence why the second half (which has a much more group feel) hit so many positives. The combined enthusiasm of the orphanage youth combined with the stark contrast between slums of 1930s New York and upper class groups played well against one another. It was a shame that some of the younger children struggled with the accent, however this was to be expected of an amateur production, and ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’ was a definite standout number. When combined with a versatile (although sometimes confusing) set and a strong orchestral accompaniment, the chorus had the opportunity for the cast to really show the strength of what it had put together.
Ultimately, Annie is the sort of musical which will please anyone for a light evening entertainment. The Nottingham Operatic society has succeeded in the production, and though certain elements falter, by the end of the show everything had fallen nicely into place (highlighted by the bow wrapped Sandy which sat lovingly centre stage). It is shame as if the stronger strides had been hit earlier it could have made for a superb performance, however it falls a little by the wayside. Not to worry though, as when leaving theatre I found myself in the rain, but contemplating that ‘The sun will come tomorrow’, an optimism which lasted with many of the audience I am sure.
Annie: Nottingham Operatic Society is running till 1st November. More information can be found here