Annie The Musical
The King’s Hospital production of ‘Annie’ ran from November 15 – 17 to a full house every night in the school’s own theatre, The Wilson Wright Hall. It was an absolute feast for the senses and very eloquently reviewed by teacher Helen Roycroft and student Sky Wrafter below.
'Unlike many school musicals, the cast was auditioned from all six years rather than transition year. The school alternates a musical with a play from year to year, so in order to give every student an opportunity to participate in both at least once, auditions are kept open to all. The musical production team has developed a successful strategy over the years, and a strong element of this is cast credibility. If the audience sees a second year boy acting the part of father to a sixth year girl, credibility is stretched. In every KH musical production, the generation differentiation is as important as the ability of the leads to sing and to act, and in many cases to dance.
And so the part of Annie went to a second year girl, Grace Adams, who brought to the role a poignant vulnerability beneath a tough façade. This was a refreshing take on a character whole iconic identity makes her difficult to reinterpret, but this is what this utterly disarming Annie achieved. Miss Adams has a voice made for music theatre, with her well-nigh perfect pitching, impressive range and vocal quality, and a directed passion that is not often encountered in one so young.
Mr. Warbucks was played by fifth year Jack Daly, a veteran of the KH stage. Mr. Daly is possessed of a velvet baritone voice guaranteed to melt the most cynical heart. He threw himself into Daddy Warbucks’ character with the same commitment that blew the audience away with his portrayal of Fagin in the school’s 2015 production of ‘Oliver’.
Mr. Warbucks’ personal assistant, Grace, was played by the lovely Grace Kim, true to her on and offstage name in every sense of the word. She shone in the role, bringing to it an angelic quality beautifully balanced by a firm authoritativeness expected in someone of her position.
The group of orphans made a compact and coordinated team, with Lara McDonnell’s Molly a strong partner to Annie in the opening scene. Drake, impeccably played by Jack Leitch, was a beautifully understated portrait, while the members of the president’s cabinet had us all laughing out loud, with the guileless Roosevelt played with great humour by Harrison Jio. The Boylan sisters were a class act, executing some sharp barbershop harmonies for their Bert Healy radio slot, with Royale Ohoka’s ‘Never fully dressed without a smile’ an upbeat, toe-tapping number.
For this audience member, there was, even amongst all this huge talent, one performer whose magnetic stage presence and effortless immersion in her character speaks of a future in theatre. As Miss Hannigan, Ellen Carroll (who played the title role in 2015’s ‘Oliver’) made us laugh at her chronic tipsiness; nod at her bittersweet innuendo; agree with her jaded observations; feel for her frustration; empathise with her desires and even wish she got a break. The maturity required to pull together all these strands in one hugely complex character in a few scenes is not what you’d expect in a fourth year student. Miss Carroll’s performance of ‘Little girls’ (the best song in the show in this reviewer’s opinion) was better than many professional renditions I’ve heard. This is not an easy song to pull off, by anyone’s standards.
A further nod to the casting strategy was the pleasing likeness between Miss Hannigan and her stage brother, the failed petty criminal, Rooster, played with well-measured cluelessness by James Kelly. The comedy was enhanced by Jade Halpin’s light touch as Rooster’s moll, Lilly. Miss Halpin captured the spirit of Lilly perfectly, while Jan Lindsay’s direction ensured that her character never blurred the boundaries with Miss Hannigan’s forceful nature.
Set against a ravishing NYC backdrop, the street scenes were as vibrant and entertaining as any professional presentation. Choreographer Rebecca Daly of Kinesis Dance Academy infused the dance and movement with an extraordinary elegance and energy, while Jan Lindsay’s imaginative and subtle direction found a natural flow through dialogue and song.
The excellent band comprised music staff and students and was directed this year by Josh Johnston.
Overall, the King’s Hospital’s production of this well-loved show was a breath of fresh air and the capacity audiences’ reaction was testimony to the standard. The person who pulls it all together is producer Kerrie O’Reilly, head of performing arts in the school. It is her vision in all aspects of what it takes to create a brilliant musical that materialises on the stage. And if the finished product is a gauge of her vision, then we can expect many more productions of this calibre in The King’s Hospital.'
'On Wednesday, the 15th of November, 2017, I attended The King’s Hospital school musical "Annie" in the Wilson Wright Hall. I was delighted to see such a variety of students involved, from 1st years all the way to 6th.The lead role of Annie was played by a soon-to-be famous 2nd year pupil "Grace Adams" The opening scene began with an Orchestra including pupils such as our school council president, Robert Gibbons on the double bass. The music instantly engaged the audience and it was this very moment that I knew I was in for a treat.
The show begins with a scene in the orphanage where little Molly (Lara McDonnell ) is distraught and Annie (Grace Adams) storms in making an entrance and tells all the Orphans to leave her alone. The girls then performed their first song "Maybe" and not too long after, the hilarious Miss Hannigan (Ellen Carroll) stumbles in and the orphans demonstrate how “It’s a hard knock life”. This contrasting hit was one of the most memorable scenes due to the dramatic choreography by “Rebecca Daly”. Soon we see a completely different cast as Annie heads off to NYC for Christmas. Daddy Warbucks played by the amazing “Jack Daly” slowly but surely welcomes the orphan into his humble abode and his cunning maids and servants fall in love with Annie just as much as the audience.
I was particularly proud of how much time and commitment went into the general set up and display of the musical itself. Each scene had its own unique background. The main painting was of New York City which was designed and painted by a 6th form student “Noa Joulin.”
The young actors would not have been half the characters they were without their outstanding costumes, provided and fitted by Julie McMullen assisted by Susan Leitch. Although the maids and servants stood as one in their uniforms, all the other characters had their own costume and I could tell that no matter the role , every style was thought about from head to toe.
The Musical was produced and directed by sisters “Jan Lindsay” and “Kerrie O’ Reilly” as well as the musical director “Josh Johnston”. It is safe to say that they know a thing or two about directing musicals because each actor from the smallest role to the largest has their moments and knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing, when and where.
I’ve seen my fair share of plays/musicals and I grew up watching Annie so from the bottom of my heart this was probably the best production I have seen so far. I found myself smiling and laughing throughout the whole performance as well as wanting to sing along! It is moments like these that I am proud to be a fellow student within The King’s Hospital community.'