It really is the hard knock life in Hong Kong, isn’t it? But when that big head of curly red hair, winning smile and can-do attitude hit the city stage this fortnight, there will at least be some respite in the form of a classic musical.
The famed comic strip-turned-stage production of Annie hits Hong Kong from May 31. It’s a timeless story which revolves around adorable 11-year-old orphan Annie, who is forced to live in a municipal orphanage with boozed-up nightmare Miss Hannigan in charge. But, despite all the hard knocks, she never loses her positive outlook. And when she finds her way into the home of gazillionaire Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks, he gives her hope for the future and she never looks back. With plenty of song-and-dance numbers (including the classic Tomorrow, originally written to conceal a scene change), Annie is pure entertainment on stage.
Fresh from a successful run of the show in London’s West End are Su Pollard, of English sitcom Hi-de-Hi! fame, and David McAllister, another renowned British stage and screen star. Pollard portrays Miss Hannigan and McAllister steps into the role of Daddy Warbucks. Rounding out the roster, three children from the UK rotate to fulfil the title role of Annie. Casting for nine orphans was done in Hong Kong last month and the 28 selected girls (also in rotating roles) have hit the ground running in order to be up to snuff with their UK cast members.
Truly an American classic with strong international appeal, Roger Hannah, talented British director and the choreographer of the production, believes there’s no need to tweak the storyline for a local audience. The central message of Annie, Hannah believes, defies cultural lines. Everyone can relate to the scenario: ‘when you have nothing, don’t give up hope’.
While Hannah stays true to the original, expect this run of Annie to keep a fast-moving pace. “I don’t go to black out,” he says. “We do a lot of scene changes in view.” Stitching the show together has been possible with Hannah and his crew holding the reigns but it’s been ‘busy, busy, busy’ before Annie starts its run. But, as the cliché goes and Hannah confirms: “That’s showbiz!”
Annie runs at the HKAPA from May 31. For tickets: hkticketing.com.