Posts Tagged ‘Annie


Little Orphan TrAshley


Little Orphan TrAshley

Brisbane Powerhouse

17 – 20 July 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


Direct from a sell-out season at Sydney Opera House, the writers who brought you the smash hit Fat Swan (Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott) team up with acclaimed director Craig Ilott (Smoke & Mirrors) to give you this uproarious new spectacle with an all-star cast.


Ashley stars as little orphan Fannie, a ten-year old with a terrible secret… one she can’t even share with her inmates at the Sutherland Shire Girl’s Orphanage, let alone the bad-tempered showbiz has-been who runs the place: the drunken Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore). The truth is: Fannie is not yet all woman. But, to get her gender reassignment surgery, she’ll have to find her true birth parents to get their permission.


Luckily for Fannie, she meets acclaimed photographer/multimillionaire Daddy Warhorse (Gary Sweet) who promises to sponsor her! But can she survive a rigorous set of blind auditions, a very ‘arty’ photoshoot and an appearance on evil controversial talk-back radio personality Ellen Jones’ show before she finds her parents?


To make her wish come true, Fannie may need more than just her trusty ex-sniffer dog Bullshit (Rhys Bobridge).


Well, you might have LOVED this show. I’m happy for you #winning


Let me know in the comments section below what it was you loved (as opposed to telling me what you think I should already know about my lack of knowledge, experience, tact, etc, etc when it comes to reviewing theatre).


I really wanted to love this production. I’ve missed previous TrAshley shows but I was looking forward to seeing this one. I had a ball live tweeting the show (I’ll add those Instagram pics later), but I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I’m surprised that something so unpolished has had some of the rave reviews it’s had. There is such a wealth of talent involved in this production but sadly, very little of it manages to cut through the crass humour and faltering pace. It could be that the brand of humour is just not my cup of tea, but even so, I expected a higher standard across all departments, regardless of personal preference when it comes to comedy.


Do you know what this show was? (An industry peep who shall remain nameless said it was a train wreck!). For me, it was one of those really bad parties (you know the ones, you’ve been to them too), when someone who is not the most popular person in the building invites everyone around after work on a Friday night and you go with some colleagues and a couple of add-ons because there was nothing else planned, but there’s no footy on, and they haven’t tidied the house, or planned any party games, or offered the first drink, and they’ve shopped at Coles on the way home with a budget of $32 for chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people (can you even GET chips, cheese and crackers for 30 people for under $32?). While this scenario would make a decent play, the feeling during the show that I was AT THAT AWFUL AWKWARD PARTY did nothing to convince me that I was experiencing the same show I’ve heard others go wild about!


Of course I was there with my social media hat on, having been invited to a lovely little pre-show soiree by the fast-moving folk in digital marketing at Brisbane Powerhouse. My feedback to them was not really for them (other than that they put on a lovely little soiree), but for the performers; if they’re going to announce before the show that they’d like us to turn ON our mobile phones and tweet the night away, they need to pause for a moment longer in those wonderful camp poses so we can get great, clear shots to post! It’s a great idea, and opens up the discussion on the merits (and annoyance to other patrons) of Tweet Seats at performances, particularly at performances of this nature. Social media loves the shock value. The Brisbane Powerhouse team are way ahead on so many counts, but I hope they have some better quality fodder to throw at us next time. Or a whole lot more champagne.


It goes without saying that if something sells out at the Sydney Opera House you’re gonna’ wanna’ bring it to your venue, but I fail to see what’s so appealing about Little Orphan TrAshley. It failed on so many levels for me, and I don’t think it’s useful to anybody to say otherwise. If I did, it would be a case of supporting and condoning the mediocre in a country that is renowned for its cabaret. Yes we are, indeed! So how does a show like this get let loose on the unsuspecting public? I DON’T KNOW. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW. IT FASCINATES ME. It’s different to just not being blown away by a great show (case in point: Mrs Warren’s Profession & The Maids. No, I haven’t written about them yet). So. Oh dear. Here we go. Here’s the break down:


  • the premise is tres amusement for a moment and then IT GETS OLD
  • the set actually looks CHEAP. This may well be the intention.
  • the lack of improvisation skills baffles me. A simple encore of the opening number would have saved everybody – performers, crew and audience – the uncomfortable two and a half minutes on opening night of microphone lead or pack probs, or whatever it was that made us all squirm uncomfortably while a techie adjusted something beneath Burchmore’s skirt. That’s right. And yet nobody on stage or off had the initiative/training/experience/forethought/improvisational skills/confidence to call it. EXCEPT THEY ALL HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THOSE SKILLS/QUALITIES. They just stood there looking embarrassed. Oh, and in the middle of all that awkward silence TrAshley acknowledged via his working mic, “Well, this is fucked!” BIG MISTAKE. I’m afraid I lost a lot of respect right there. Even in community theatre THE SHOW MUST GO ON
  • the jokes are bad. Really bad. Like, think of the worst racist, misogynist dad joke you’ve ever heard and multiply that by about 100 you-can’t-laugh-at-that groans, and that is ALMOST how poor the comedy is. I was expecting trashy AND witty. I was genuinely surprised when people laughed.
  • pedophile jokes – and worse, characters that are built upon them – are never funny


Bobridge and Burchmore both did their best to save the night, almost succeeding on a number of occasions, but even his chap-clad buttocks, cheeky grin and spot-on moves, and her sass, self-deprecating humour and supersize talent wasn’t enough to win me over. 


IS IT JUST ME? It might be. And that’s okay. I know TrAshley has a huge following already, and some of the dedicated fans were obviously glad to have caught this Brisbane season. They weren’t disappointed at all! But I bet anybody in the audience with a good, slick, sophisticated and intelligent cabaret show ready to go will be wondering WHAT THE HELL DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET A SIMILAR TOUR UP?! 


If Meow Meow is the Queen of Cabaret in this country (and she must be), why aren’t more artists aspiring to be like her? And by “be like her” I simply mean writing and producing cabaret shows that are slick, sophisticated, intelligent, funny and completely gorgeous. (I’ve seen a few lately that could do with the hype that comes with TrAshley, but deservedly so). Meow Meow’s shows are the best parties in town. Let’s have more of those.





Gordon Frost Organisation

QPAC Lyric Theatre

14th April – 13th May

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

Sugar and Spice and all things nice. That’s what little girls are made of, right?

From the excited young voices being shushed by their mothers to the bobbing heads as far back as the eye can see, it seems most definitely so. That’s right folks, ‘Annie’ is back and “Aw Gee-ing” her way across the Lyric Theatre stage and right back into our plucky little hearts.

At the premiere of  the musical’s Brisbane season, the curtain rises to a scene reminiscent of the grit and grandeur so candidly etched into our memories from the 1982 hit movie. The set design (Kenneth Foy), captures expertly the squalor of the Municipal Girls Orphanage, which is later contrasted starkly with the opulence of Warbuck’s mansion. The visuals of this show are crafted beautifully, and set up the audience for a visual treat.

Directed by Karen Johnson Mortimer, the production relishes in recapturing the essence of a time gone by. All our old favourites are there, and are delivered just the way we remember them. And while even I was quite happily toe-tapping my way through the familiar numbers, a nagging little voice inside kept whispering that while fun, familiar and comfortable, there was a sense that theatrically, something was amiss.

Having grown up watching the 1982 film adaptation of Annie with blatant devotion, admittedly I have strong images and expectations wedged firmly in my heart as to what I should feel seeing these characters live before me onstage, expecting the subtleties of each scene and each character to once again charm their way into my heart and knock me flat. Obviously this is an ambitious expectation given the limitations of a proscenium stage show. However, despite some outstanding contributions from the cast, I do feel this seasons Annie fails to consistently reach beyond the great musical score and script and expose the humanity of the story in a way that excites me as much as my childhood memories of the show do. But it does have its redeeming moments, particularly in the talents of its cast.

Sharing the title role of little Orphan Annie are newcomers Xanthe Dunning, Anita Munro and Chloe Thiel, with Thiel playing the role of Annie at the Brisbane premiere on Thursday night. With a strong, commanding voice that has a natural freedom and youthful charm, Theil’s portrayal of the spirited young Annie is measured, professional and mature in its approach. I would have liked to see a little more emotional connection to the text come through in her performance, as giving us a sneak peek at the vulnerabilities and emotional growth of Annie’s character could have made a very good performance into a great one. It will be exciting to watch the progress of this talented young performer as she grows throughout this production.

A strong cast of misfit orphans support Thiel. Although at times their varying levels of stage experience shows, their combined musicality and enthusiasm for their individual roles was infectious. It’s the Hard Knock Life was a highlight of the show, and allowed each girl a moment to shine. Worth special mention was youngest orphan, Molly (Kennedy Foley), who stole the hearts of the audience with her comic delivery and infectious stage presence.

Quietly commanding is the talent of Anthony Warlow in the role of Oliver Warbucks. Bringing a sense of warmth and vulnerability to the role of the authoritative Warbucks, Warlow’s voice and artistry shines in the role, and gives the air of a generous performer.

Julie Goodwin plays opposite Warlow, as an entrancing and practically perfect Grace. She too brings warmth and quiet elegance to her role, embodying the youthfulness of the efficient, kind hearted Grace through an intuitive and experienced approach. Goodwin’s vocal delivery is a major strength of her performance, embodying a beautiful sense of musicality and composure that is highly compatible with her character.

Likewise, Nancy Hayes in the role of Miss Hannigan gives an outstanding and dedicated performance. Courageously, she does not mimic the noted archetype known to many from the 1982 film, but rather, gives Hannigan a disordered drunken charm that audiences love-to-hate. Theatrically she is a joy to watch, however I felt more could have been made of her solo moment Little Girls, which seemed to only skim the surface of Hayes innate comic timing and theatricality.

Todd McKenney as the swindling Rooster and Chloe Dallimore as his leggy limpet ‘Lily St Regis’, make an impressive entrance in Easy Street. They have a sizzling presence onstage that commands your attention, albeit sometimes to the detriment of the other performers in the centre of the action, however, I enjoyed their energy and found them an engaging duo.

Alan Jones in the role of F.D.R is an interesting choice. Vocally he holds his own but although enthusiastic and well directed, areas of the characterisation are in need of refinement. The slipping in and out of accent was noticeably an issue and distracted from what was effectively a well-mannered performance.

The ensemble of Annie was a highlight of this production. With a collective energy that kept the energy of each scene flowing seamlessly, they are to be commended for their contribution to this show. Each is clearly an accomplished performer in their own right and together form a strong ensemble that is musically and theatrically dynamic. Likewise the musical direction of the show (Peter Casey) was a true asset, and gave justice to this well loved score. My congratulations to the instrumentalists who created a sensitive and spirited accompaniment to this show.

I have to say that while I found the direction of this production a little stagnant, it is not without it’s musical and theatrical charms. The show closed to rapturous applause and it is clear that Annie’s optimistic and feel-good message is one that resonates with audiences young and old. Sometimes it’s just nice to go and see a nice musical; after all is said and sung, I found it quite a nice end to a ‘Hard Knock’ week.



Annie the Musical will officially roll out the red carpet and pull back the curtain when it opens in the Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) tomorrow, on Thursday 12 April to a full house. Michelle Bull will be there. Keep an eye out for her review.

This exciting production stars Anthony Warlow, Nancye Hayes, Todd McKenney, Chloe Dallimore, Julie Goodwin and Alan Jones as President Roosevelt along with 24 local children, including Cassidy Bonnor, pictured below.

Cassidy Bonnor (Molly). Image by Paul Guy.

There will be three cast members alternating in the roles of Annie, with the coveted role being shared by Xanthe Dunning, Anita Munro and Chloe Thiel.

Based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”, the musical Annie burst into popularity in 1977, when it opened on Broadway. After running there for nearly six years, it has played in over 22 countries worldwide including the UK, Argentina, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Australia. Annie became a smash-hit movie musical in 1982 starring Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. The movie is adored worldwide and a fixture of popular culture references.


Annie is full of toe-tapping hits such as It’s the Hard Knock LifeEasy StreetYou’re Never Fully Dressed Without A SmileNYCMaybe and of course, Tomorrow.

These wonderful songs have become staples of musical theatre repertoires worldwide and now, 34 years on, it remains one of the most loved and universally appealing musicals of all time. Running at QPAC for 5 weeks only, don’t miss out on this wonderful ‘grown up’ musical for audiences of all ages.

To book tickets to Annie at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre go to or phone 136 246



Cassidy Bonnor. Source: Quest



flying feathers

Flying Feathers

Coolum Theatre Players

Coolum Civic Centre 

23rd March – 1st April

Richard Kent (Roger Featherstone) surrounded by Mrs Winthrop's girls: Claire Sawyer (Sally), Chris McMahon (Jackie), Jesse Hana Ellison (Polly) and in front, Kathryn Rose (Debbie)


I love going to a Coolum Theatre Players’ show. The Coolum Civic Centre is not the greatest venue (the sound disappears pretty quickly into its cavernous belly) and I often forget to take drinks and tapas (damn!) but we always get a warm welcome and more and more often, we’re getting a great, fun show. Friday night was no exception. President, Julia (lovely is her middle name) Loaney, greeted us and showed us to our seats and we enjoyed a fast-paced British farce, Flying Feathers, featuring a few familiar faces and a couple of new ones.


Jesse Hana Ellison (Polly)



Claire Sawyer (Sally)


Pretty tightly written, by Derek Benfield, with a typical, farcical twist, Flying Feathers is a short, funny show for everyone (well, perhaps not for your youngest, being set in a “house of sin”). Well-respected local Director, Nancy Kinmond, has obviously had fun with this one, which meant that we did too.

The problems associated with solving multiple mistaken identities provide the amusing premise, with plenty of sexy costumes, postures and innuendo thrown in. In typically ridiculously hilarious fashion, somebody, little orphan Annie style, escapes the crazy house in a laundry basket, somebody comes back to life in the laundry basket, and somebody nicks off with a bottle of whiskey to the relative safety of a cupboard instead of into the laundry basket!

Tania Nash (Mrs Winthrop) provides much of the pace behind the action in Act 1 and, with so much to set up; this can only improve during the short run. Improving pace means getting on top of those cues, guys! You know who you are! I know Nancy has drilled you. Now you need to drill it some more! What Act 1 lacked in pace, it made up for in energy and total commitment to the tale. What a pleasure to see a true team effort, performers supporting each other in their roles and working hard together to make the jokes work. The partnership between Chris McMahon and Claire Sawyer is testament to this. Carla Edgar (Sarah) and Sean Bennet (Henry/Bernard) also showed us how easy it can be to support each other on stage rather than compete for the spotlight. There are other companies who can learn a lot from seeing this production. Go together, book a table, TYO (take your own) drinks and nibbles and talk after the show. Just like the old days. If you don’t enjoy this show you can talk after the show about how wrong I was!

I love seeing Jesse Ellison give a stronger and slicker performance in each production. I love seeing Sean Bennett make more confident choices in his roles and I love seeing Dennis Coleman in a role, finally, in which he is perfectly cast. This is a strong cast overall, with obvious mentors taking the newer ensemble members through their paces. This is what I like to see. This is how it should be. This is what community theatre is all about and it wouldn’t happen without somebody wonderful at the helm. Congratulations to Nancy and Coolum Theatre Players. Once again, you’ve excelled. May you have full houses and heaps of fun!


Tania Nash (Mrs Winthrop)

Photos courtesy Neil Dearberg


We got Annie! But do you have Annie’s dog?


Poppy's puppy, Biscuit, knows he is just not suitable this time.

OPEN AUDITIONS will be held at the Cultural Centre Forecourt South Bank this Sunday 12 February for talented dogs to play Annie’s beloved pup ‘Sandy’ in the Brisbane season of Annie.

To be eligible for selection applicants need to be well-trained, medium sized, sandy/light red coloured dogs aged between 12 months to 5 years.

The producers for Annie the Musical are hoping to find confident, outgoing dogs that are great with children and are not noise sensitive, all of which are essential to perform in front of packed houses on a nightly basis.

Owners must be prepared to hand over their dog to the show’s highly qualified trainer for the duration of the Brisbane season, from the 27th Feb at the earliest, dependent on training level. Only dogs who are well trained prior to auditioning with the ability to learn quickly, need apply.


Example of Little Orphan Annie daily by David Lettick, February 9, 1974.  Copyright New York News, Inc. Image courtesy of

Based on the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” the musical Annie burst into popularity in 1977 when it opened on Broadway. After running there for nearly six years, it has played in over 22 countries worldwide including the UK, Argentina, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Australia. Annie became a smash-hit movie in 1982 starring Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett that is adored worldwide and a fixture of popular culture references.


Annie is full of toe-tapping hits such as It’s the Hard Knock LifeEasy StreetYou’re Never Fully Dressed Without A SmileNYCMaybe and everyone’s favourite song – Tomorrow. These wonderful songs have become staples of musical theatre repertoires worldwide and now, 34 years on, it remains one of the most loved and universally appealing musicals of all time.

‘Sandy’ auditions are open on Sunday 12 February 2012, with registration forms available for owners to fill in on arrival from 12 noon to 4pm.

Enquiries should be directed to

Requirements for Dogs Auditioning:

         Dogs must be de-sexed, vaccinated, medium sized, (approx 20 kilos and 75 cm high).

Medium to long haired and a sandy colour, for example, golden retriever or any other sandy or light red coloured pure breed or a Labradoodle or mixed breed.

         To give your dog every chance to impress it is important not to feed him or her on Friday night or Sat morning.

And to bring their favourite food, and toy to the audition as well as a water container.

          Please bring proof of vaccination and a photo of your dog for us to keep should the dog be shortlisted.

         Dogs must be confident, outgoing, great with children and other dogs and not noise sensitive.

         Dogs must be over 12 months and under 5 years old.

          Dogs must be well trained prior to auditioning with the ability to learn quickly.

      Owners must be prepared to hand over the dog to the highly qualified trainer for the duration of the Brisbane season (from at the earliest 27th Feb, dependent on training levels, to 13th May) for a nominal fee per week.


Cultural Forecourt, South Bank (Riverside of QPAC)

Sunday 12th February

12 Noon to 4pm

Registration forms will be available for owners to fill in on arrival

To book tickets to Annie at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre go to or phone 136 246.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow on Bloglovin

Follow us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Bernadette O'Brien on Memorial
Flaunt 2.0  Redevelo… on Flaunt
Trevor Ross on the wizard of oz – harve…