Arts Review: Annie – Bankstown Theatre Company (Performances to 20th March)

Annie, that curly redheaded good-hearted orphan and quite possible epitome of the family friendly musical. It is this charm that makes Annie such a perfect choice for any smaller independent theatre companies. Particularly with a younger cast as there’s just something that gets you in the “smiling” mood about being in a crowd full of proud parents. I think it’s the wildly overenthusiastic cheering.

So with this in mind, the latest production of Annie by the Bankstown Theatre Company does such a wonderful job. And its young cast really do their parents proud, pulling off their orphan roles competently with a bit of additional enthusiasm that never goes astray. Particularly not in this musical anyway! It is clear that they are well-rehersed and having a really good time. Although some of the voices may still have had that little warble, when singing together the orphans really shine.

Our Annie Courtney Emmas is utterly delightful. She was one of the crew that might not have the strength of voice just yet, but she makes up for it by being everything you would want from a well-acted Annie. She stays constantly in character, charming adults both on and off stage with that dazzling smile and cheeky wit. She also manages to keep this all in check, not overpowering the role with cheesiness or forced smiles. It’s a careful line and the young Emmas nails it.


The adults of the cast bring out some fantastic characterization, leading with Leonie Johnson as the amusing and slightly inebriated Mrs Hannigan whose performance is easily enjoyable. Simon Fry creates a strong-minded Daddy Warbucks whose character growth has the audience smitten by the final curtain. Neil Litchfield as President Roosevelt is a clear highlight of the evening, with his fabulous accent and perfectly-timed delivery of lines (such as “Solo for the President” and “Now, harmony!”) that have the crowd in fits of jubilant laughter.

Another wonderful aspect of the production is the obvious care and attention given to both the sets and costumes. There are several smooth set transitions that take us from Orphanage to Downtown Shanty, from New York City to Warbucks Mansion (I’m not sure who would wallpaper their house with $ signs but I guess if anyone would it would be Warbucks… And maybe Kayne). The well-styled 1930s art deco costumes bring everything to life, and when Annie appears on stage in that final beloved red and white number the crowd goes wild.


Annie is a wonderful mix of laughter and “n’awww” moments, perfect for a crowd of mothers, teachers, friends, extended family members… This production has really brought together a fantastic cast who above all else just look like they’re having FUN up there. And aw gee, it was cute.

You’re never fully dressed without a smile, so go and get yours at Annie, playing at the Bankstown Theatre Company until 20th March. For more information visit

The reviewer attended opening night on the 11th March.

Photo credit (c) Ray Parkinson



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