With a close to sold out season already and an extra performance added, Annie looks like one hot ticket indeed! We caught up with Director Alan Burrows.
Alan – The last time I saw Annie was in March 1980 in Adelaide, having previously seen it in Melbourne in 1978. Then it starred Hayes Gordon, Jill Perryman, Kevin Johnston, Nancy Hayes and a much younger Sally Ann Bourne as Annie. Since then I have marveled at the shows resilience, a film and numerous re-runs, the latest with Anthony Warlow, but I confess I have not seen any of them. What attracted me to the show was what appealed when I first saw it all those years ago, the central themes of hope and optimism, its shear entertainment value and its toe tapping score.
Casting the show’s main parts was not difficult, there are always large numbers of young talented girls and our two Annies are no exception and the orphans have energy and talent to burn. With all the other major parts we had more than two choices so the cast assembled is first rate. Where the difficulty arose is finding credible and believable actors to play the minor roles, particularly FDR and Drake the butler, both are integral to the plot. Fortunately we have found two gentlemen who fit the bill perfectly.
Working on Annie I have tried to be faithful to the script and focus on what works and is entertaining to a public that I’m sure will come with certain expectations of the show. To that end I’m delighted to be once again be working with Susan Lewis as Associate Director and Choreographer. Her ability with large ensemble numbers and in this case with young girls will provide the wow factor I’m sure will entertain. I have never worked with Danny Forward as Musical Director before, but he provides the expert musicality and infectious enthusiasm that is perfect for this show. I am confident that audiences will appreciate the hard work and talent on display and will be thoroughly entertain by what they see.As with all musicals, continuity is always the most challenging aspect, moving seamlessly from one scene to another in order to keep the audience constantly engaged. We are fortunate with Annie to have Chris White as designer. His design while suitable for the confines of the Whitehorse Centre stage, provides the spectacle yet workability required to achieve the continuity required and I’ sure the lighting to be provided by Jason Bovaird will only enhance this.
Having worked on numerous shows over long period of time I am still constantly amazed at the talent on display in our theatre scene. What I try to do in directing such people is to encourage this talent to shine in the context of what we are trying to collectively achieve. It is important that everyone appreciates and understands how their role and their portrayal fits and interacts with the other characters and how it contributes to the overall production.
Finally the success of Annie as a show does rely on the charm of the children and the impact of the dog. I’m pleased to say that our dog is an Annie veteran having played the role of Sandy numerous times and only has to hear the opening bars on Tomorrow to strut his stuff.
As for me, I just keep on keeping on in this theatrical scene. I have just completed auditions for my next show “The Light In the Piazza” which will have two seasons, firstly at the Athenaeum Theatre at Lilydale in late August and then at the Malvern Theatre in early November. This is a very different musical and I’m confident one that will provoke wide interest in the theatrical scene in Melbourne. I am fortunate to have assembled an excellent cast, so as they say “watch this space”.