Positive message from 'Annie at Christmas'
Driven by her desire to find parents whom she refuses to believe may have passed on, a defiant, strong-willed Annie is constantly running away from her home, an orphanage. But, Annie's boldness and commitment to finding her parents transcends into her receiving an invitation to spend Christmas with a childless Billionaire. This act of kindness from the Billionaire soon catapults into love and forgiveness, while showing the power of hope.
This familiar story was told in an entertaining performance of the adapted 1999 version of the musical, Annie. The play dubbed Annie at Christmas was produced by Wonderland Productions, in celebration of their 21st anniversary. The script was adapted by Alice Hogarth and directed by Brian Johnson. The venue was the Philip Sherlock Creative Arts Centre.
Sunday's show - the large cast comprising students from preparatory schools in the Corporate Area - had the almost full house laughing and applauding at their hits and misses. And while some of the young ones have some way to go before making it to the Actor Boy Award, for Emily Vaz as Annie, Judith Fitzgerald-Selby, (Miss Hannigan), Kennedy Brown (Grace Sobers) and Clementine Fitzgerald-Selby (Sandy the Dog), it was good performances all around.
Not only did they remember most of their lines, but they all captured the emotional states of their characters. Clementine was adorable as the frisky Sandy, Vaz and Brown did well in their individual roles; they are also fine singers too, as exposed in them singing at intervals, the play's anthem - The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.
In her adaptation, Hogarth incorporated reggae music as well as fusing the Jamaican dialect with Standard English. And the words came to life on the lips of William Keane, Tom Fitzgerald-Selby and Sean Quinn. The six orphans, role-played by Abigail Corrigan, Edwin Keane, Victoria Anderson, Gabrielle Christian, Alana Benjamin and Amira Peart, performed well also.
The costumes made by Hope McKenzie and Kathleen Mahfood, added spectacle to the show. The set was practical and effective and fully used by the director. Johnson, spread the actions of the play behind and in front of the curtains, and seemed to be in control of the cast. But he may want to advise his prompter backstage, to feed the lines in softer voice. Likewise, the break between scene changes were uncomfortably long.
Relatively speaking, the 42nd play by Wonderland Productions, Annie at Christmas, was a fine one. The Gleaner, caught up with overjoyed playwright and producer Hogarth, who said there is always a strong message in her plays. She also believed that drama should be used in the classroom. "The system is too much about desk and chair," she told the audience, adding that drama builds confidence.