They may be dressed in tattered clothing, but 27 young girls from Singapore couldn’t be any luckier. They get to play orphans in Annie, the Broadway musical on its first run in Singapore, at Marina Bay Sands.
When the musical was playing in Hong Kong from May till June, a casting call was similarly held for talent there. Roger Hannah, the director of Annie, explains, “We wanted to bring the element of locality into the show.”
Handpicked from 350 hopefuls, the girls are divided into 3 groups, taking turns to perform in the heartfelt tale about an orphan who brings happiness to everyone she meets and who endears herself to and changes the life of a man with millions in the bank, but no friends.
For most of the girls, it’s their first time acting in such a huge-scale production and they were excited just to be on the same stage where the cast of Wicked and The Lion King have performed.
When this fact dawned on her, 14-year-old Dinie Bte Zainudin’s thoughts were, “Oh my god, I’m at Marina Bay Sands, I’m performing here!”
For these girls, juggling school and long hours of rehearsals are all worth it for the many benefits that come along with acting in a musical. One of which is the chance to wear the fancy costumes for the finale of the show. Su Pollard, who plays the orphans’ caretaker, mimicked the children’s screams of excitement when it was time for costume fittings and recounted fondly, “They were screaming and they were so excited!”
That excitable energy was apparent during the opening night as it was a delight to watch girls as young as 6 years old singing and dancing their hearts out to all-time classics like ‘It’s The Hard Knock Life’ alongside the main touring cast from United Kingdom.
Nothing less can be expected of them with veteran stage actors like David McAlister and Su Pollard on board to guide them and give them advice.
David, who plays the billionaire Oliver Warbucks, sang praises of the local actresses, “These are very talented kids!” It’s as high praise as you can get, considering this is coming from a thespian who has been acting since he was 12!
Sharing his sentiments is Su, who acts as the alcoholic caretaker of the orphans, Miss Hannigan, played memorably in the 1982 movie version by Carol Burnett. Su, who first acted as Miss Hannigan back in 2001, told UrbanWire, “The acting is excellent here! Oh yes, I’ve definitely noticed that.”
Photos courtesy of Azira Amran and BASEntertainmentAsia.
Despite their youth and natural exuberance, the girls are professionals. Su said, “I think the girls realise that it’s not just about fun, it’s about discipline and they’ve got to focus and concentrate.”
For these budding actresses, it’s just the start to something amazing as even famous Hollywood actresses like Catherine Zeta-Jones had their humble beginnings playing an orphan in Annie.
The Tony Award winning musical that swept 7 awards was first performed in 1977. Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Annie and be entertained at Marina Bay Sands from now till Aug 5. Ticket prices ranges from $65 to $175 and can be bought at Marina Bay Sands Box Offices or at Sistic.