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The classic returns to Singapore, refreshed with a brand-new company and set that recalls the 1977 original
Photos: Courtesy of Base Entertainment Asia
It may be the 19th staging of the iconic “Annie”, but this iteration is here with a brand-new physical incarnation – from a total rehaul of set details to a stellar new company of actors.
Directed once again by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin, this production will whisk you back to the Tony Award-winning 1977 original, which is commonly heralded as one of the best-loved family musicals of all time.
It’s a hard knock life
Inspired by the famous 1924 comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” that first ran in the New York Daily News, “Annie” is an uplifting rags-to-riches story of a plucky young girl who grows up in a hard-knock New York orphanage.
One day, Grace Farrell — assistant to billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks — approaches the orphanage to invite one lucky child to Warbucks’ luxurious mansion for a Christmas celebration. By a stroke of luck, Annie is chosen; but when a grumpy Warbucks returns home, he is none too pleased to find the stranger in his house.
He asks Grace to take Annie to a movie, but she persuades him to go along. As he and Annie begin to take to each other, they enjoy a fabulous night out in New York City.
The production features a beloved score of classic hits, including “Maybe”, “It’s the Hard Knock Life”, “Easy Street” and the timeless anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow”.
Shining Broadway stars
A big part of what makes this edition such a hit is the talented company touring with the show. The titular orphan girl, Annie, is played by 12-year-old Heidi Gray, who has been preparing for her national tour debut even before she was nine.
“We did community theatre; acting, singing and dancing classes; and choir,” shared Gray. “I started with the 1982 movie starring Aileen Quinn. I always looked up to her [as inspiration].”
Another key character that elevates this show is Warbucks, played by Broadway and voice actor Gilgamesh Taggett, who has appeared in other productions such as “Children of Eden”, “The Producers” and “Chicago”.
“Stories are told to draw the listener in,” explained Taggett. “On television and film, you tone everything down and [the performance] is all done in the eyes… But on stage, there’s a lot of broad gestures and you have to appear a little ‘bigger’.”
Back to the original hit
What sets this staging aside from the previous ones is Charnin’s motivation to take audiences back to the classic 1977 production that moved the world.
“[Charnin] decided that he wanted to bring back the ‘Annie’ that people had loved for so long,” said Taggett. “This harkens back to his original staging, choreography and design… He wanted to bring back the original feel [while] adding a modern accessibility for the audience.”
He elaborated, “The basis of the show is about how tough things can be, but no matter how dark and grave the day is, tomorrow the sun will still come out.” With this, Taggett said, the musical will draw you into a connection with its iconic characters like Annie, Warbucks, the other orphans and even the ill-tempered head of the orphanage, Miss Hannigan.
By Pamela Chow
“Annie” is now showing until 11 Sep at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands.