Annie – Civic Theatre – Review

13 year old Zoe Fifield took over the eyes, ears and hearts of the Civic’s audience as she gave her opening night performance as Annie at the weekend.

Zoe really is a natural star of the stage, and is one of three ‘Annies’ chosen to rotate the role during the NZ season after a nationwide search earlier this year. She commanded our attention from the get go, with tireless energy and unflappable optimism.

The story of little orphan Annie allows you to believe that good will prevail in a tale of this young orphan given the chance of a new life with billionaire Mr Warbucks. This feel good high-class production is slick with a capital S. Working with a book full of nostalgic 1930’s vernacular of gee whizzes and leaping lizards.

Excellent direction allows you to flow through this story with ease, complemented by beautiful lighting and costume design. The impressive set transports you from Annie’s orphanage to the streets of New York and to Hooverville, and finally to the plush residence of Daddy Warbucks himself.

The chorus choreography was also faultless and added that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes this show the jubilant spectacle it is.

Zoe FifieldZoe Fifield played Annie on opening night at The Civic, Auckland

Zoe wasn’t the only talented Kiwi on stage, all the orphans are from NZ (different cast for Wellington and Auckland) and all gave impressive performances full of enthusiasm and energy from curtain up. I just couldn’t stop smiling during their spirited rendition of ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’. Their continued tenacity and confidence throughout really is the cherry on top of this well-known musical. Kiwis can feel assured, and safe in the knowledge, that these young performers can represent NZ talent so highly.

From the adult cast you just can’t beat the bad guys. Orphanage manager and just about functioning alcoholic Miss Hannigan, is joyfully played by Su Pollard. Pollard brings lots of laughs with her slapdash dance moves and inappropriate flirting. Her rendition of ‘little Girls’ was wonderful, and Hi Di Hi fans will see she hasn’t lost any of her comedic timing. Her onstage brother Rooster Hannigan, MiG Ayesa, also plays up the villain whose morality is long gone, but whose manipulative criminal ambitions are perfectly expressed in his performance. Their raucous belting out of ‘Easy Street’ was defiantly one of my highlights of the show.

Daddy Warbucks, played by David McAlister, gave a heart warming performance that allowed for his smaller co-star to interact perfectly with him. The smart and saavy Grace Farrell, Rachel Stanley,  also had some cute moments with Annie and some great song and dance numbers in the grand house.

A shout out has to go to the four legged cast member whose ahhh inducing appearances as Sandy all went without fault on the night.

The Civic is the perfect venue for this production that oozes elegance, glamour and Broadway style.

Annie is a perfectly escapist, sentimental and uplifting production of a classic and much loved musical.

Annie is on at the Civic Theatre Auckland until 6 July.

Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar

Check out our interview with Su Pollard below.