Annie has finally arrived in Melbourne town! It’s been twelve years since it was last here and it’s evident with 87,000 tickets sold in advanced bookings and over $700 000 taken at the box office on Monday alone (Oh my goodness!) it seems it was darn well about time.
This delightful classic features 24 young Melbourne girls and they are ready to strut their stuff for excited audiences (and proud Mums) from tonight onwards. With a twelve week run and plans for a Perth season after that (leapin’ lizards!) Melbournites need to grab their tickets before they’re snatched away!
I was lucky enough to attend the Media call and see some of our Melbourne girls perform ‘Hard Knock Life’ and oh my goodness, the performances from these girls are strong. Not surprisingly, one of the stars of the adult cast, Julie Goodwin, seems to agree with me.
“They’re really sweet girls, especially these ones– and very talented these ones– must be a Melbourne arts capital thing!”, Goodwin quipped.
I had the pleasure of a chat with the delightful Julie who plays Grace in this revival of Annie. Having been a fan of the Annie story, which is based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, since she was a child Goodwin is enjoying her role in this production despite it being a departure from her previous stage roles.
“It’s fun for me to not just be doing a big soprano singing role, which is a nice challenge acting wise. I’ve always acted through singing with Christine, and Maria did have dialogue of course, but it’s really about the purity of that soprano sound”, she explained.
“I loved the movie — I did watch the movie a lot as a child. Just because it’s one of those family favourites I guess! It never really crossed my mind to perform Grace… but I really have been enjoying it, I think because she’s just so lovely! Firm but kind. I do generally like to play the nicer roles.”
Because of Julie’s divine voice Musical Director Peter Casey has had the good grace (pun intended) to give Julie an extra reprise so we get to enjoy her voice a bit more than the show traditionally allows.
“They’ve added in a few extra little small moments of singing for me which is fun as well. Which is really nice”, she said.
Julie trained classically at the conservatorium in Sydney but a lucky break drew her away from the classroom and onto the stage. Her vocal training has placed her in good stead to cross over between Music Theatre and Opera however, and she has been enjoying steady career.
“It’s really thrilling when you can make it happen”, she admits
The Annie cast have toured both Sydney and Brisbane already and Julie has learned how to keep her performances fresh and exciting each and every night, but she believes that each city’s cast shake up keeps the touring company on their toes:
“In each city we of course have new orphans — which is three sets — and the Annies and the Dogs. So that does help a bit because it’s a new energy with the kids and they’re so excited every day to be in… and it does feed through.”
Although Julie admits that keeping a performance fresh in a long run is one of the biggest challenges in Music Theatre she says that being in Annie helps.
“It is a happy show essentially, so that makes it quite enjoyable.”
However enjoyable it may be to work on such a happy and buoyant family show, there is always a gruelling period of time when rehearsing in new cast members, and in each city the full company must complete full technical rehearsals for each of the three new casts of girls. This essentially results in the adult cast trebling the tech work in every city, which is a massive undertaking.
“When you’re initially rehearsing you’re learning what your part is as well, and then once you’ve been running for quite a while all the attention is just about the children. Which makes sense because we’ve got to get them up and running, fitting in the show that [already] exists. It’s just a really long tech process.”
But she admits that once the shows start rolling along they are on easy street again.
The young stars of the show have already had a taste of glamour over the last week — it appears our especially talented Melbourne girls are being well looked after.
“The amount of flowers that these little girls received [during previews] was insane! And they were just on cloud nine”, Goodwin laughed.
We at Aussietheatre wish big bouquets upon all the members of the Annie cast and all the best for a successful season in Melbourne.