'Annie, The Musical'

Saint John Theatre Company, Saint John, New Brunswick

Courtesy of Saint John Theatre Company

Aaron Kropf

Annie Brings the Sun Out Today in our world which is still Covid laden

Saint John Theatre Company wrapped up their 2021/22 season with the family favourite Annie. After coming out of a pandemic I cannot think of a show that could have been more fitting. The need for optimism found in Annie is greatly needed as we move forward and put the last two difficult years behind. This performance was made even more special because I brought along my 5-year-old daughter who was buzzing with anticipation for this show all day.

Annie is based on the popular comic strip of the day 'Little Orphan Annie'. She is an orphan who continually hopes for the day for her mother and father to come back to get her while she tries to escape the tyranny of orphanage owner Ms. Hannigan.

Grace Farrell (a pippy performance by Pippa Wennberg) shows up to take one of the orphans to live with billionaire Oliver Warbucks where many lives are changed resulting a typical happy ending of early musicals. Even if you might not be familiar with the show itself, I’m sure you know a few of the popular songs including ‘Hard Knock Life’, ‘Tomorrow’, ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’, and ‘Easy Street’.

The cast was wonderful with Bertis Sutton as the stoic Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. His change from businessman focused on maintaining his wealth during the depression to the man who falls for Annie’s charm and ultimately does all he can to ensure her happiness was solid.

Ms. Hannigan was wickedly devilish while in the hands of Jen Downey. Finally, Lauriane Pelletier as the titular character couldn’t have been better cast. She embodied all aspects of the plucky Annie and has a beautiful singing voice. My daughter exclaimed that her favourite part of the show was Annie, and really loved her songs.

A slight quibble I do have with the text, however.

While hit song and dance numbers are jammed into the first half before intermission, the pacing drags slightly in the second half. The quibble I had does not lie with the actors nor the director or musical director. Instead, the book and music don’t hold the same intensity and vitality as the first Act.

Despite this minor inconvenience of the text, Director Scott Thomas managed to make the show sparkle and leave audiences full of optimism. What a spectacular way to end a delightful season.

Congratulations to all those involved in bringing this production to the stage; it’s unfortunate that this production had such a short run.

'Annie' was a delight and I couldn’t have wanted more from this production. Oh, and by the way, my little girl loved it too.

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