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ANNIE! (article first published : 2006-07-1)

One of the world’s most fun and loved, if cloyingly cutesy and sentimental of musicals, the Tony-winning Annie! is here presented in an ambitious and quite handsome production by a 35-strong cast from Gauteng’s Northcliff High School.

For eight years now, the school, under the deft direction of Nick Jourdan, has brought a classic musical to this Durban venue and the standard has been high, no more so than with last year’s The Pirates of Penzance and, in particular, 2003’s The Mikado.

Annie!, featuring a host of new faces, may not rate among Northcliff’s best efforts. However, the cast performs its song-laden tale of a mischievous orphan girl, adopted by a billionaire in the Depression era, with a zest and enjoyment that rubs off on the audience.

It didn’t help that sound was quite appalling on preview night – microphones yo-yoing from muffled or silent to overamplified – but the good news is that these teething troubles are certain to have been sorted out by now.

Nonhlanhla Mkhonto makes a sweet orphan Annie, who, while dodging sarcasm and scoldings from orphanage head Miss Hannigan (a fun and suitably dishevelled Whitney Tennant), dreams of meeting the parents she believes are still alive.

Her life changes when Grace (Namhla Qina), the secretary of billionaire Oliver Warbucks (a stand-out Konrad Clifton), arranges to have Annie visit the tycoon for Christmas.

He warms to her and sets about trying to adopt her – but not before schemers – led by the conniving Rooster Hannigan (a confident and charmingly mischievous Donovan Kingsburgh) – try to wring some big bucks out of him.

Backed by a band, the production has fine set and costume design. Performances are at 19h30 until Saturday, with matinees at 14h30 on Saturday (15h00 on Sunday). Ticket prices range from R30 to R50. Book at Computicket.




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