The Royal School’s third musical, Annie, saw the Junior and Senior Dramatic Society combine to produce what was perhaps their best production yet. As usual auditions were held in early September and rehearsals began soon after, becoming more intense as the opening night approached. As always as nerves set in and sore throats threatened, we all lived by the motto: it’ll be all right on the night. (It is amazing how pizzas help when you are losing your voice!)
Set in 1930s New York, Annie tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl, who has been living in the horrid Miss Hannigan’s orphanage for girls her whole life. She has the dream that one day she will be reunited with the parents who left her a letter and a locket so many years ago. Annie’s quest to find her real parents and the adoption by the billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks is what provides dramatic plot for this spectacular and heart-warming musical.
This year Rachael Dunwoody stole the show in the lead role, with her tear-jerking renditions of ‘Maybe’ and ‘Tomorrow’, and her remarkably convincing New York accent. I have even heard it said that she gave a better performance than the little girl in the famous movie! Rachael’s previous experiences of being onstage certainly paid off, and she gave a most enthusiastic and memorable performance as the main character.
A real sense of amusement was provided by Miss Hamilton, with her most humorous portrayal of Miss Hannigan. She was able to carry off the character of the inebriated matron of the orphanage with remarkable authenticity! Miss Hamilton’s parents didn’t know she was in the play until the first night and when asked what they thought of her acting, she replied, “My mum thought I was standing in for someone who was sick, and my dad just thought I was mad!” Miss Hamilton also said that she enjoyed playing the part of the ‘baddie’ and this was certainly obvious in her performance!
Nicholas Lennon was clearly the perfect choice for the role of Oliver Warbucks. Anyone watching could never have guessed he had never performed onstage before, with his excellent portrayal of the well-to-do and kind-hearted businessman. His brilliant duet performance with Rachael, of ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ brought a happy tear to everyone’s eye, and his innate confidence onstage gave him the air of an experienced actor. When asked about attending rehearsals and learning lines, he said it was hard work, ‘but it was all worth it in the end’.
Shannen Gass gave a delightful performance as the character of Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ faithful secretary, and Jack Watson and Lydia McGowan were excellent as the roles of Rooster and Lily St. Regis. Peter Eves, Alexander O’Neill and Mark Ewart all gave brilliant performances, as did the girls cast as the orphans. Every single performer gave everything they had, helping to make this production one of the best the school has seen.
Thanks are due to all the teachers who helped with auditions, rehearsals and backstage. Of course, the entire performance could not have happened if it were not for all the brilliantly talented actors and actresses who helped to make the event so memorable. Well done everyone!
Rachel Gamble (GCSE pupil)