Annie! Little orphan big hit
BY MARGARET CALDBICK
Staff Little Orphan Annie is more than 90 years old, but she didn’t look a day over 12 on Saturday night at the finale of a three-night run of the musical Annie at Glengarry District High School in Alexandria.
The lead role of Annie was played by Ellie MacKinnon, whose joyful exuberance playing the tenacious red-headed orphan made the audience forget they were watching a 15-year-old in the role.
Ms. MacKinnon’s fine big voice recting highly entertaining musicals at the school.
And successful too. For each of the three nights last week, more than 200 people filled the school’s cafeteria with standing ovations after every performance.
Annie has three despicable villains, and Gaby Robinson Cadieux, 15, as the child-hating, gin-swilling orphanage boss Miss Hannigan, Patrick Glueck , 17, as the con artist Rooster, and Emma Wilson, 12, as his whiny girlfriend Lily, were especially effective displaying their nastiness., But they were irresistibly likeable too, especially in the threesome’s signature song and dance number, Easy Street, which drew the loudest applause of the night.
The entire cast was energetic and in fine voice. William Lutz, 18, as Daddy Warbucks brought physical presence to the role and solid singing in his two solo numbers, and Grace Graham was predictably solid and credible in her role as Grace Farrell who works for the board of orphans and acts as a surrogate mother to Annie. A major character in the play, Ms Graham was a stand-out in I Think I’m Going Like It Here, the number she shares with Annie and Warbucks’ servants.
The entire supporting cast, many of whom played several roles, was so enthusiastic and so well rehearsed, that the play’s two acts sped by.
There were no standouts on stage, every actor was engaging and watchable, but Kate Fabros as orphan Kate and Star to Be was heartbreakingly moving in her solo singing, J.J. Romaniuk in several roles was an imp on stage grabbing the audience’s attention in every scene she was in, and Kathan Patel playing the dry Drake, Warbuck’s butler and good friend, delivered some of the night’s best one-liners. And finally, Lewis MacLeod, 14, in three roles was delightful, and hilariously realistic as the ventriloquist’s dummy.
The live orchestra consisting of Elizabeth Caddell on piano, and students Emma Reijmers on violin, Zarren Ali on bass, Sarah McKinnon on drums, and Norah Hunter as page-turner, were the backbone of evening doing excellent service to the Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin songs, including “Tomorrow,” “Hard-Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “Maybe.”
And finally, Mrs. Caddell was determined that the cast would include a live dog playing Sandy, Annie’s rescue dog.
Following serious auditions, the role was played by five-year-old Lucy Lou, who happens to belong to student Mariska Dewar-Massie who was one of the play’s two stage managers with Ethan MacIsaac.
Lucy Lou, a Border collie, did a terrific job on stage, and also after the performance when she and the entire cast lined up to greet the audience. Off leash and friendly to everyone, Lucy Lou made the rounds, greeting theatre-goers who bent over to pet and admire her.
THE BAND: Elizabeth Caddell, Emma Reijmers, Sarah McKinnon and Zarren Ali.