Contributor: Devina Salmania
Adapted from the Broadway musical sensation, Hi Production’s Annie Jr. allows for young talents to showcase their acting chops on stage. We had the chance to sit down and witness the performance of one of their performing groups and needless to say, the kids’ talents blew us away.
Having seen quite a few musical theater performances before, I’m used to having a set of standards on which I can compare each performance and determine whether it is a good one. However, entering completely fresh into Hi Production’s Annie Jr., I was taken aback by how much each of these young kids were able to pull off in terms of the holy trinity of musical theater—acting, dancing, and especially singing.
The dancing opening was quite the eye-catcher, but, of course, the main course was the one we were all there for. The opening number was performed with instantly recognizable charms from each of the actors. Despite some initial issues with the audio mixing in the venue, the main actress was able to project Annie’s daring, fierce energy with ease and some formidable vocal chops to boot.
Throughout the duration of the musical, I was constantly in awe on how she was able to capture the subtleties of the character and the book to then entertain the present members of the audience. One particular occasion that I remember the most was when a mishap occurred; when the ‘stray dog’ the character Annie was supposed to assist ran off-stage mid-performance, it was handled with professionalism I’m not even sure I can say is possessed by theater actors twice her age.
However, the highlight of the evening should be awarded to Daniel Hannigan. On-stage, he’s charismatic, sympathetic, and everything you would expect the character to be. When we interviewed him off-stage after the performance, I can say that he really knows what he’s doing and what the character was all about, something that clearly transcended into his performance of the characters.
The production, wonderful as it is, was not without its vices. Some technical issues sprinkled throughout the matinee, especially audio-related ones, are quite distracting. As for the quality of the performances themselves, to compare this production to those of more experienced performers, let alone professionals, would simply be unfair. Instead, in reviewing this, I would like to focus on the joy of performance—despite the various inconveniences, mishaps, and shortcomings of the production—that was palpable in every single aspect of the production. It was obvious that everybody involved, from the kids on stage to the production team, were passionate about what they were doing and were having the time of their lives with Annie Jr..
Lastly, I would like to express my personal appreciation for Hi Production’s mission to channel young children’s affinity and passion towards the world of performing arts. I sincerely believe that giving them a chance to nourish their passion and talent since a young age would surely give them lasting positive effects, not only on their potential professional career in performing arts, but also in their respective phases of development. I look forward to seeing these faces in many musical productions to come!