Hāwera Repertory Society: Annie
Book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin.

When it comes to family friendly, feel-good Broadway shows, Annie has to be one of the best, and the Hāwera Repertory production does not disappoint.

From the moment the rag-tag bunch of orphans first take the stage, they command your attention throughout.

With a heavy performance schedule, there are two casts of children in this production, this review is based on the performance by "Team Brenna".

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Named for Brenna Johnson, who plays the titular role, the youngsters in this team show talent beyond their years.

Brenna herself gave the character of Annie a beautiful depth in her portrayal. She managed to give Annie plenty of spunk and attitude as well as reminding us she was just a little girl desperately hoping to find her parents.

The rest of the orphans brought a vibrant energy to the stage every time they appeared.

I would challenge any audience member not to fall in love with Maggie Cleaver's Molly. She may be small, but she sure is talented!

While every one of the orphans does a fantastic job, Maggie certainly stole the show a few times, as did Tial and Jade Te Wiki. Playing Pepper and July respectively, these girls were great fun to watch throughout, with beautifully expressive faces and some fantastic singing and dancing.

Director Shaun Campbell made a great casting choice in giving Debbie Clancy the role of Miss Hannigan. Debbie's take on the child-hating orphanage boss is one of the highlights of the show.

Her great comedic timing and brilliant voice are put to work well in this role, and some of the show's best moments come from her interactions with Grayson Richards who plays Miss Hannigans's brother Rooster.

When Rooster, Miss Hannigan and Lily (played by the Deb Thomas), sing Easy Street they command attention. The three of them work perfectly together as they sing, dance and plot their way to their dream of a better life.

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Richard Baylis as Warbucks makes his presence felt as soon as he sets foot on the stage, and Emily Davidson's Grace is the perfect match for him in their scenes.

I personally loved the scenes with Andrew Beale as President Roosevelt (watch out for Ed Fern as Howe - he is great fun to watch) while my fellow reviewer (aged 11) loved Noah Hunt's ventriloquism.

Shane Burgess is perfectly cast as radio star Bert Healy, while Makayla Deuart-Tutahione shows she is one to watch in her moment in the spotlight as a star-to-be - I am sure she is indeed, a star to be!

Choreographer Michelle Glover has done a fantastic job with the cast, there isn't a mis-step to be seen throughout.

Set design and execution is always something Hāwera Repertory does well, and this production is no exception. Clever use of a projector, combined with well designed sets helps set the scene throughout.
I also love the way their show sets often start in the foyer - look out for the cigars etc as you walk in.

My only critique of this fantastic show was a slightly too long intro - I can only look at washing for so long before wanting to hear some singing!