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It's a hard knock life

By Jarrod 27 May 2014

photo from the finale of AnnieSince its 1977 debut, Annie has been a perennially popular musical. Based on a 1930s comic strip - and set firmly in that era - it has been staged all around the world, and was even turned into a successful film starring the likes of Albert Finney, Tim Curry and Carol Burnett.

Annie is one of those musicals that’s had such a cultural impact that you probably recognise more than a few of the songs, even if you’ve never seen the movie, or caught a stage production. It tells the story of an orphan (the titular Annie) who is taken from the care of a sadistic and drunken orphanage matron (Miss Hannigan) to live in the home of an eccentric billionaire (Daddy Warbucks). Jealous of Annie’s good fortune, Hannigan plots with her brother Rooster to somehow profit from the situation, and preferably do away with the girl in the process. In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, I won’t spoil it any further, but suffice to say that US President Franklin D Roosevelt also plays a key role…

In 2012, Annie began a Broadway revival, which ran until January this year; in addition, a new movie version is currently in the works, starring Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie, and also featuring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. In the meantime, it’s New Zealand’s turn to get a taste of the live stage experience, with a new production featuring English, Australian and New Zealand actors.

photo of the song Easy Street from the musical AnnieFans of English television comedy and drama will recognise many familiar faces - including stars of Hi De Hi, Allo Allo, Emmerdale, Eastenders and even Doctor Who. These imports are ably assisted by local choruses of children, playing Annie’s companions in the orphanage, and three young Kiwi actresses who alternate the role of Annie.

Annie runs in Wellington at the St James Theatre until 8 June, before taking off for a season in Auckland. Fans of the film, or indeed of classic musicals in general, won’t want to miss it.

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