Monthly Archives: July 2009

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Finale

Before the finale of CBC’s Triple Sensation, it seems a foregone conclusion that Leah Cogan will be crowned the winner.  As much as I’d like to lay claim to being prescient, all credit goes to the formulaic editing of the show that pretty much told the audience who was going to win back in week three.

There were some good performances out of the top six, and all the focus really was on the talent.  The personal interviews were kept to a bare minimum, and each finalist sang, danced and acted separately.

Excluding the personal stories and the offstage likeability of the performers made the show an entirely different creature.  It also helped me come to a more-or-less final conclusion as to my relative indifference to Leah Cogan.  She is most definitely a triple threat, but she isn’t suited for reality television.  With all of the personal distractions swept aside, she shone brightly in all three of her solo performances.

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Newfoundland’s Liam Tobin was the runner up and he completely won over the panel.  Tobin is all charm and smiles and his acting and singing weren’t too bad either.  He is definitely leading man material.

Cayley Thomas did a competent version of “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace.  It wasn’t bad but it didn’t really stand out, especially in the face of such strong competition.

I was surprised that Kaitlyn Semple wasn’t in the top three.  Her “Cabaret” was sexy and confident, but not good enough apparently for the judges.

I really enjoyed David Light’s “Sara Lee” from Kander & Ebb’s And The World Goes Round.  He was funny in a way that we haven’t seen before and it made for a nice change of pace.

Hailey Gillis infused herself into “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret and you could feel her strength and determination.  I was a little put out by the judges’ comments that she wasn’t playing a character; she was just singing it as herself.  There was some truth to it though, but I still thought it was a personal high performance for her.

As I already predicted, Leah Cogan of Embrun, Ontario was declared the winner of the $150,000 scholarship and the Triple Sensation title.  And I’d say that she definitely earned it.  Whatever it is that you need to be a star, Cogan has it it spades.

That brings this season to a bittersweet end.  It seems unlikely that there will be a third season anytime soon.  This second season was already shot and finished last fall, but the airing was delayed until now.  With Executive Producer and marquee panel judge Garth Drabinsky already convicted of fraud in criminal court last spring, the future of Triple Sensation does not look bright.  Drabinksy’s sentencing has been delayed multiple times, but is currently scheduled to be handed down on August 5th.

Week 5: Workshop Presentation

Week 4: Master Class (part 2)

Week 3: Master Class

Week 2: Vancouver Auditions

Week 1: Eastern Auditions

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Interview with Sarah Rodgers (Thoroughly Modern Millie)

The air is sweltering in Vancouver this week, and I have plans to see Thoroughly Modern Millie again tonight at TUTS in Stanley Park.   I’m hoping against rational belief that this evening’s temperatures will cool to something more bearable.

If you haven’t already been to TUTS yet, go see both shows.  It’s a great pairing this season; the ever-popular and solid Annie (read my review) and the thoroughly fabulous Thoroughly Modern Millie (read my review).

Sarah Rodgers has spent the past few years directing musicals, but it’s been a while since she’s acted and sung in one.  This summer Rodgers is returning to her roots as she hams it up playing the villainous Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie at Theatre Under the Stars.  Rodgers gave us a few of her thoughts regarding her role.

Rodgers on musicals:

“I’ve been directing a lot of musicals in this city and having a ball with it and just loving it.  I’ve done the last three seasons at Gateway Theatre. I directed Emily, My Fair Lady and last year, Guys and Dolls.

But before that I have been a professional actor for over 15 years and I did perform in musicals years ago. But it’s been a while and I am just thrilled to be back on the stage, singing, (laughs) kicking up my heels.”

Danny Kim, Sarah Rodgers and Aaron Lau in TUTS production of <i>Thoroughly Modern Millie</i>.  Photo by Tim Matheson.

Danny Kim, Sarah Rodgers and Aaron Lau in TUTS' production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo by Tim Matheson.

Rodgers on preparing for the role:

“I have to learn a Chinese accent, and in all honesty, I have to learn a very over-the-top, stereotypical, and for lack of a better word, a bad Chinese accent.  Because I play a character who thinks she’s a wonderful actor.  There’s a lovely footnote in the script that says ‘it is not important that Mrs Meers’ Chinese accent be good, but it is important that she thinks it is good (laughs).’

I worked with a student of mine [at UBC] who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Canada.  He sat down with me and I taped him and he helped me greatly with the accent.  I also had to do a lot of work.   . . . a lot of coaching and work on singing, just because I haven’t sung, myself, in many years.  So of course, I’ve been working privately on that.  Just prepping and preparing vocally.”

Rodgers on the 1967 film version of Thoroughly Modern Millie:

“I am a huge fan and I was probably not born when the movie came out.   But, they were showing it in reruns. My mother and I would watch it on the television every year.  I’m a huge fan of Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews. So, I know the film inside out, love it, love it, love it!  [In the play] the character Mrs Meers is very different, which is fun for me.  I’m reinventing it and making it completely new because she doesn’t play her as an Asian woman in the film at all.  They’ve totally changed it, they’ve made it even campier and it is a crazy, crazy depiction.

But of course it’s supposed to be a real send-up on the woman and I end up going to jail, I think, for my bad accent (laughs).  Mrs. Meers ends up going to jail and the Asian sidekick gets the beautiful girl, so it all works out well in the end.”

Rodgers on playing the villain:

“I’m loving it and I would say that it’s a new venture for me as an actor.  I’m not used to playing the villains, or the old broad.  I wake up one morning and suddenly I’m playing the old broad in the show.  When did that happen?  I’ve been playing ingénues all my life (laughs), I’m used to playing the Mary Tyler Moore role. It’s a great comic role, wonderful, wonderful comic role. It’s a great character part and it’s fun being the bad guy. Who knew?”

Rodgers on Beatrice Lillie:

“From the film itself, I am a huge fan of Beatrice Lillie and a lot of people of this generation don’t know [her]. But Bea Lillie was a famous vaudevillian actress and she was also, a lot of people called her the first female comedian.  I am so honoured to be playing a Beatrice Lillie role. I’m beside myself.

There’s one thing that she does in the film which is absolutely ridiculous.  She barks at the boys. She barks at them and she says ‘shu sho, shu sho.’ Of course the first thing I wanted to know was what does ‘shu sho’ mean, because that’s the one bit of Chinese that she uses in the film. She says it quite a lot and in a way that you think she’s saying hurry up, hurry up, get going, ‘shu sho.’ And it means absolutely nothing, I found out.  , Well I put it into the show.  I do it twice in the show and that’s a treat really for the diehards.”

Tickets are still available through Tickets Tonight. Thoroughly Modern Millie plays every other night at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park at 8 pm until August 22nd.

Piaf: Love Conquers All (Review)

My first memory of Edith Piaf was in a grade seven French immersion classroom.  Our teacher bribed us with prizes to make us memorize the words to different French language songs.  Among them were the warblings of Mme. Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”  It amused us to no end to try and mimic her distinctive sound.

Piaf: Love Conquers All is a one-woman powerhouse performance that tells Piaf’s story; from the lows of her humble beginnings to the heights of international stardom and all the joys and the sorrows that entailed.

Naomi Emmerson as Piaf speaks to the audience as if they are guests in her Parisian apartment.  It is an intimate conversation, as if between new friends, and Emmerson is very much at home in the role.

Naomi Emmerson as Edith Piaf in Piaf: Love Conquers All. Photo by Larry Auerbach.

Naomi Emmerson as Edith Piaf in Piaf: Love Conquers All. Photo by Larry Auerbach.

Emmerson is a dynamic performer and effortlessly recounts her first romantic experiences and singing for money on the streets.  The memories are often dark, but Piaf does not linger on the bad times.  She wants nothing more to be happy and she is happy when she sings.  As the show progresses, we learn that to sing, she must be in love.

Pianist Yan Li ably plays Piaf’s music to provide the backdrop to her life and when the last of the 13 songs is done, so is the story.  Along with her most famous song “La Vie En Rose,” the other 12 are beautifully rendered by Emmerson.

That the songs are in French, is no barrier to the audience.  Less important than the actual lyrics of the music, is Emmerson’s emotional delivery.  Her voice communicates that which is truly important, the humanity behind the music.

The black and white simplicity of the angled set gives the impression of an unfinished canvas, and Piaf attempts to fill in the details with the colour of her memories.  Accents of red are haphazardly placed around as well, and these elements artfully come together to finish Piaf’s account.

It’s not a fairy-tale story with a happy ending, being based in reality, but Emmerson never falls into the trap of trying to play a martyr.  She wears her flaws proudly on her sleeve, unfinished or not.  Emmerson’s portrayal is moving and true.

The search for love is definitely the theme of both the show and of Piaf’s life.  She was involved with many men, but only laid claim to loving a select few.  That her loves always seemed to end in tragedy is not relevant.  She has lived her life fully, made some terrible choices, but in the end she regrets nothing.

Piaf: Love Conquers All plays through August 2nd at the Firehall Arts CentreTickets are available online.

An Interview with Naomi Emmerson (Piaf: Love Conquers All)

The awareness of Edith Piaf’s place in the pop culture pantheon has resurged somewhat in the last few years.  That is due, largely in part, to Marion Cotillard’s  captivating performance as the troubled songbird in La Môme (La Vie En Rose), for which she won a Best Acting Oscar in 2008.

This summer, Vancouver audiences can take a more intimate look at the life of Piaf in the one-woman show Piaf: Love Conquers All.   Roger Peace’s English script  showcases 13 of Piaf’s best-known songs in the original French.

Piaf: Love Conquers All opens tonight at the Firehall Arts Centre and plays until August 2nd.  Tickets are available online.

The star of the show, Montréal-born Naomi Emmerson, has lived in the role on-and-off for the past five years, and speaks of her onstage counterpart with an odd mixture of reverence and familiarity.

Naomi Emmerson as Edith Piaf in Piaf: Love Conquers All.  Photo by Larry Auerbach.

Naomi Emmerson as Edith Piaf in Piaf: Love Conquers All. Photo by Larry Auerbach.

Q: What makes Edith Piaf so compelling?

“It depends on who you ask, but I think the character of Edith Piaf herself is extremely compelling.  Just because of her unbelievable passion towards what she did, which was to sing and to love.   She had this extreme passion for making sure, no matter what, that she could do that.  If it meant keeping herself standing so that she could do a concert for her loving fans by shooting up enough morphine to keep her pain-free then she would do that.  If it meant dating a famous person to get herself in the newspapers then she would try to do that too.”

“For me it’s always the music too.  Some of my favourite songs of hers are lyrics that she actually wrote like “La Vie En Rose”, and “Hymne à l’Amour”.  [She was] a tragic figure that, sort of like watching a train wreck, you can’t look away, it’s just too fascinating.”

Q: In what ways does your show differ from the film?

“What I’ve been told from people who’ve seen them both . . . ours is a little bit uplifting in the story.   But you will definitely recognize many of the stories [from the film, because it is her life. We touch on quite a few of the little stories but you actually get to experience it as if she’s in your living room telling you about [it].  I actually do engage the audience and talk to the audience.  You actually have this physical feeling as if you’re with Piaf, as opposed to a third-party observer on a two-dimensional screen.”

“And then of course there’s the live music, which means anything can happen.  Lyrics could be missed or the tempo could be really energetic and exciting one night.  Or I might start crying in the middle of the song because of a particular thing that’s happening in my mind as I’m doing the show.  There’s more of the immediate temporal thing that you never know what can happen because it’s not recorded.  The people in the audience are the ones who get to experience that moment. Where in a film you can return to over and over again and you can make mistakes because you can just record it.  I think this is the case in all live theatre.  The experience of going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of other strangers and allowing yourself to be with any story, that’s told on stage in front of you, is a great experience.  For me there’s nothing like it, I love going to theatre. I love doing theatre.”

PiafWeb

Q: Having played Piaf for so long, how has the experience changed for you?

“It just gets deeper and deeper; more clear in my body and in my feelings. Sometimes when I watch the video of the first time I did it, five years ago, there’s more of a level of superficiality.  Now, there’s just more of a comfort and a growth within it because I know it so well.  I continue to discover new things and with new audiences you discover other dynamics.”

Q: Why come to B.C. and why now?

“We wanted to expand the audience with the show and we have family who live out West.  First I thought I’d bring it to ArtSpring (Salt Spring Island, BC) and thought well we can’t really afford to just do it at ArtSpring.   We’d have to make a bigger meal out of it and I really wanted to reach the Vancouver audience. It’s a beautiful place and Vancouver, the whole area, is familiar with theatre arts.  I was so excited to see your website. I said, OMG, this is totally amazing they have their own musical theatre website. It was really cool to see that.”

“It’s a West Coast debut and so we’re really excited to see how the audiences respond in terms of the language; the French and the English.   Sometimes people will say ah, I love Piaf, and then others are like who is Piaf? So it’ll be interesting to see how many people are familiar with her.   I think the movie probably helped bring up the topic again, getting people interested again in her music.”

Q: Does the show make sense to English-speaking audiences?  Will they get the same experience as a Francophone one?

“With the songs, the poetry is so simple that a lot of times you can kind of tell what I’m saying. You can create an image in your own mind because the music itself is so well-written, so lush and full of story telling in itself.  What I have been told by the New York audiences who are basically just English-speaking, they would say ‘I don’t even know what you were saying but I was so moved.’  Through the particular scene you can kind of extrapolate what the song is about because of what’s just happened, or where Piaf is in the story or in her emotional state.  I love Brazilian music but I have no idea how to speak or understand Portuguese but I still love listening to Brazilian music.   Or Cuban music and I don’t speak Spanish.  I think it’s the music itself that can be the language.   Of course the text is all in English, people can understand that.”

Q: Has the show ever been performed completely in French?

“We are hoping to do that, in French, hopefully next year in Québec City.   We’ll see if that works.   I haven’t played it in French but it has been done in French many, many years ago by Patsy Galant in Montreal.  She did it in French one night and then English the next, [Québec] will be my first time doing it in French.”

Q: Finally, if you could play any role, in any musical, what would it be?

“A couple of years ago, I was exposed to Light in the Piazza.  It’s funny, because I would love to sing the mother role, but I don’t know that I’m quite old enough yet.  Maybe I’ll grow into that role.   [It’s] a completely different type of singing than what I do with Piaf, because that’s more of a lyric, really sort of a light opera sound.  With Piaf, I use a lot of my chest voice. Piaf sang with no holds barred.  She just kind of sang on high volume all the time. Well, she learned to use dynamics later on. [Piazza] would be a completely different role and I love the complexity of the mother trying to let go of her adult daughter.  It’s so beautiful. She’s sort of the southern belle whose husband has fallen out of love with her.”

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Workshop Presentation

This week is the fifth in a series of six Triple Sensation episodes, and my attention is waning.  I’m really ready for this show to be over.   There are eight finalists left to compete before the judging panel.  Wylmari Myburgh, Tess Benger and Vancouver’s own Andrew Cohen and Alyssa Brizzi have already been eliminated over the past two episodes.

After the required recap, the episode starts off with the group song and dance number “They’re Playing My Song.”  David Light goes before the panel performing “Why God Why?” (Miss Saigon).  The judges largely pan his performance.

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Liam Tobin who sings “Maria” (West Side Story) has both the voice and the fresh-faced matinee idol good-looks of a leading man.  The judges are equally divided as to his musical talent.

Kaitlyn Semple’s “I Wish I Were in Love Again” (Babes in Arms) seemed to be over her head.

Hailey Gillis’ “I Had Myself A True Love” was a great piece of musical theatre and she immediately went up in my estimation.  The judges seem on the surface to agree with me.

Cayley Thomas’ “I Feel Pretty” (West Side Story) was strong and full of confidence.

Jen Shaw sings “That’ll Show Him” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and is thoroughly trashed by the judges for not catching the subtext of the song.

Glen Mills and Leah Cogan received good reviews for their joint acting scene from A Doll’s House.

Mill’s version of “The Apple Tree [Forbidden Fruit]” (The Apple Tree) was not as universally liked, though I still find him to be a strong performer.

Cogan’s “I Have Confidence” (The Sound of Music) was praised by the judges as has been their custom.

After another group number from The Wild Party and the judging begins.  I thought perhaps that my ears had deceived me when I heard some criticism of can-do-no-wrong Leah Cogan.

In the end it was Glen Mills and Jen Shaw who were eliminated.  I’m a little disappointed to seem them both go.  Mills has had some passionate vocal performances and Shaw’s energy on stage is something special.  But the judges have spoken.

Next week will include guest appearances from Jason Alexander, Albert Schultz and composer John Kander. The winner and runners-up are revealed in the final episode next week of on Triple Sensation, Monday July 27th on CBC.

Previously on Triple Sensation:

Week 4: Master Class (part 2)

Week 3: Master Class

Week 2: Vancouver Auditions

Week 1: Eastern Auditions

Thoroughly Modern Millie; Theatre Under the Stars (Review)

Thoroughly Modern Millie is Theatre Under the Stars’ second offering this summer, and what a show!  Adapted from the 1967 musical film of the same name which starred Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing, the 2002 stage version won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The book is by Richard Morris (the original 1967 screenwriter) and Dick Scanlan.  The stage musical borrows some of its score from the movie as well as from Tchaikovsky, Al Jolson, Victor Herbert, and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore.  The new music is by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, Shrek the Musical) and new lyrics are by Dick Scanlan.

Set in New York City in 1922, it’s the story of a small-town Kansas girl Millie Dilmount who’s afraid to end up “old and grey at 29.” She comes to the big city to seek her fortune in the modern way; she wants to marry her future boss. Millie is enthusiastically played by local actor Diana Kaarina, who not that long ago returned from Broadway (Rent, Les Misérables) and touring productions in the US (Thoroughly Modern Millie).

Diana Kaarina as Millie in TUTS' production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Photo by Tim Matheson

Diana Kaarina as Millie in TUTS' production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo by Tim Matheson

Kaarina is definitely a triple threat and she owns the role, singing, tapping, and acting her heart out.  The opening number “Not For The Life of Me/Thoroughly Modern Millie” crackles with energy and choreographer Shelley Stewart Hunt’s choreography really spotlights the talented cast.

I’ve been enamoured with Meghan Anderssen since she stole the show last year as Annie Oakley at TUTS.  This summer she plays the aspiring actress Miss Dorothy Brown and once again she tries to steal the show at every turn.  And if not for the incredibly strong cast of leads, she undoubtedly would have succeeded.

Anderssen’s comic timing is perfection in everything that she does.  Her introductory duet with Kaarina, “How the Other Half Lives,” has some great moments between the pair.  To her credit, Anderssen has chemistry with all of the actors she is paired with over the evening.

Seth Drabinsky, who wowed local audiences a few years back in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Pickled Productions), makes his TUTS debut as Millie’s tightly-wound boss Trevor Graydon.  Drabinsky displays his operatic training in a masterful quick-tongued homage to the Gilbert & Sullivan patter song with “The Speed Test.”  He and Anderssen deftly show off their joint romantic and comedic chops in “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life” and “Falling in Love.”

Composer Tesori’s new score falters a bit with her songs for Millie’s love interest Jimmy Smith.  “What Do I Need With Love” and “I Turned The Corner” are largely forgettable as performed by the woefully miscast Danny Balkwill.  Balkwill lacks the easy charm and onstage charisma necessary to win over the audience.

Sarah Rodgers returns to the musical stage after a prolonged absence and gleefully relishes in the character part of Mrs. Meers.  As the failed-actress turned white-slave trader, she does a bang-up job of self-promoting herself as a star in “They Don’t Know.”

Mrs Meers spends the entire show hiding in yellow-face and sporting an atrociously terrible accent, masquerading as the Chinese matron of the Priscilla Hotel. The original 1967 film cast Asians in the roles of the villainous henchmen in a less-than-subtle display of racist stereotyping.  When the musical was adapted for the stage in 2002, the henchmen were changed into Mrs. Meers’ unwilling accomplices.

The characters Ching Ho and Bun Foo, played by Aaron Lau and DaeYoung Danny Kim, are the only ones who have a clue about what’s actually going at the Priscilla Hotel.  But they’re unable to warn anyone since they only speak (and sing) in Chinese.  Through the clever use of subtitled laundry, the audience is able to understand the dialogue.  Lau and Kim do a great version of Jolson’s “Mammy” redone in Chinese as “Muquin.”

Nancy Herb certainly has the right sultry nightclub sound for socialite Muzzy Van Hossmere, and vocally I have no complaints about her.  But I wanted so much more from her that just wasn’t anywhere to be found.  I’ve always seen Muzzy as sassy, campy and a bit of a diva.  The role has previously been played by Carol Channing, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Leslie Uggams, all of whom made the role their own, essentially by playing themselves.  Even though she has two starring numbers in the show, “Only in New York” and “Long As I’m Here With You,” Herb faded into the background.  I’d love to see her bring some attitude and life into the character.

Chris Sinosich’s costumes are modern and jazzy and I loved her take on Muzzy Van Hossmere’s over-the-top nightclub get-ups.

Kaarina opens the second act strongly with the powerhouse “Forget About The Boy” and the resulting extravaganza of romantically frustrated tap-dancing office workers is pure satisfaction.

Music Director Christopher King’s orchestra is near-perfect and the music is definitely what makes the show shine in the wide open spaces of the Malkin Bowl. The bright resounding tones of the brass especially give the beautiful score its vintage happy-go-lucky feel.

Shel Piercy’s directions are always top-notch and this is no exception.  Thoroughly Modern Millie’s cast is thoroughly bursting with talent and it’s a sensational must-see for the summer.  I already can’t wait to see it again.  Tickets are still available through Tickets Tonight. Thoroughly Modern Millie plays every other night at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park at 8 pm until August 22nd.

Annie; Theatre Under the Stars (Review)

I love the inherent charm and romanticism in Theatre Under the Stars.  Something about watching live musical-theatre performers under an open sky on a cool summer night brings back the notion of a simpler time.  Where the flights of fantasy we see on stage no longer seem so implausible.

Going back to reality however, begs the question whether simpler times ever actually existed, or if they’re merely childhood memories artfully framed by nostalgic wishing.  The good old days surely don’t apply to the years in the 30s during the Great Depression.

It’s in that unlikely setting that TUTS first feel-good musical of the season takes place.  The family classic Annie opens with a group of orphans gathered around the radio, listening to the opening overtures of Charles Strouse’s score.

With lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan, Annie has been a family favourite for the last 32 years and unfortunately its age is showing.  The story is peppered with cultural references from the 30s as remembered from the 70s.  Mentions of Jack Dempsey or Don Budge don’t exactly hit home with a contemporary crowd.  It also doesn’t help that the show’s most memorable songs are all in the first act.

Luckily, the TUTS cast has talent enough to gloss over the show’s weaknesses.  Nine-year-old Michelle Creber plays the titular orphan as well any seasoned veteran.  Actual seasoned veteran David Adams, who plays Oliver Warbucks, has some great chemistry with Creber.  His Warbucks is somewhat human compared to how others have played the role and his affection for his young ward is therefore more believable.

David Adams, Michelle Creber, and Dana Luccock in TUTS' production of Annie.  Photo by Tim Matheson

David Adams, Michelle Creber, and Dana Luccock in TUTS' production of Annie. Photo by Tim Matheson

The orphan chorus, as played by Sophie Leroux, Loritta Lin, Eve O’Dea, Christina Peluso, Roan Shankaruk, Nicol Spinola, Olivia Steele-Falconer, Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki and Allison Wall, is charming and brimming with talent.  Their spunky version of “Hard Knock Life” gets the show off and running on a high note.

I never envy the job of the actor who is cast as Miss Hannigan.  Carol Burnett’s cinematic turn as the boozy orphanage director is a hard act for anyone to follow.  Theoretically, Miss Hannigan has some of the best one-liners in the show, and Colleen Winton plays them up for all they’re worth.  But they didn’t get much response from the audience; which says more about the audience and the show itself than it does about Winton’s performance.  Many of the lines just aren’t as funny when you know they’re coming.

Todd Talbot and Carolyn Bergstrand as Rooster Hannigan and Lily St-Regis liven up the show with their brand of comedic villainy.  Winton, Talbot and Bergstrand are smooth as butter with “Easy Street.”

Not everything in Annie hits the mark.  Dana Luccock’s portrayal of Warbucks’ secretary Grace Farrell is flat and somewhat one-noted.  There were also a few problems with the sound, but nothing that can’t be ironed out.

Kudos to Francesca Albertazzi for her set design.  It is both pretty and practical and works well within the limitations of the Malkin Bowl.  Former Playhouse Artistic Director Glynis Leyshon makes her TUTS directing debut and has crafted a solid show.

Though the musical itself may be getting a bit tired, it’s a great choice for the family-friendly TUTS.  Tickets are still available through Tickets Tonight. Annie plays every other night at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park at 8 pm until August 21st.