AussieTheatre.com’s Cassie Tongue catches up with one of Music Theatre’s leading ladies, Julie Goodwin, to talk about her latest show: ANNIE
Annie is one of those musicals that has seeped into the cultural consciousness. Annie herself has come a long way from her origin right out of Harold Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip, but her trademark heart-warming enthusiasm has always remained at the heart of the phenomenon.
Opening on Broadway in 1977, the musical Annie has played in over 22 countries worldwide, including the UK, Argentina, Japan, Germany, and Spain. In 1982 it was transformed into a hit movie-musical with a strong and versatile cast including the legendary Carol Burnett, and a new generation was introduced to the girl in the little red dress who always hoped for a better day.
That optimism and warmth is clear when talking to Julie Goodwin, who is playing the role of Grace in the new Australian revival, beginning previews on December 29. A fan of the movie who had never seen the story brought to a stage, Julie says that this show is still “funny and heart-warming, and it has all the right elements.”
“It’s a real classic, comic, Broadway style show, which is not in every show we see. It’s so funny, with real American humour, but it also has these really beautiful, heart-warming moments, with so much positivity”, she said.
Now in their third “full-on” week of rehearsals, Goodwin says that the cast is a lovely group who is very excited to be putting the show together scene-by-scene, and that she’s looking forward to the first run-through – she confides that the rehearsal process and putting it all together is one of her favourite parts of the tour.
“It’s a real mixed bag of performers,” she says, with clear affection for the dozens of “adorable little kids who are so incredibly talented” (she later tells me she feels like a surrogate mother to the three girls playing Annie) and the “seasoned performers who have been in the business for over 30 years” who are just as inspiring.
Goodwin loves her cast. Her most memorable moment in the rehearsal moment thus far was just yesterday when she ran her first scene with the incomparable Nancye Hayes OAM, a veteran of the Australian stage, fresh from the Production Company’s latest show, Grey Gardens, which closed last week in Melbourne.
“It was her first day with the cast and we did what’s probably my favourite scene at the moment, when we first bring Annie into the house, and there’s a bit of a song and a dance with the maids (“I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”), and it’s a really nice first moment, and it was so fantastic to be able to do it with Nancye.”
“I thought she might be intimidating but she was so lovely, and she has such a wealth of knowledge. It was really great.”
Another legend of Australian and international theatre, Anthony Warlow, has joined the cast to reprise the role of Daddy Warbucks, which he originally played in the 2000. Goodwin says he is someone that can lift the spirits of a tired cast at the end of the day just through hearing him sing.
Goodwin, who made her theatrical debut in 2007 playing Christine (alternate) in the Australasian tour of The Phantom of the Opera, says of her debut role that it was “really like an apprenticeship, I learned so much,” and she took those skills into the national tour of West Side Story playing the role of Maria.
While singing is what she’s always wanted to do ever since she was young (her debut album, Love Went a-Riding was released through Skylark classics and features Art Songs in English), she finds that music theatre is a perfect marriage between all her interests – singing, acting, and movement.
“What’s different doing this show,” Goodwin says, “is that in Phantom and West Side Story the emphasis for me was always on the soprano singing. In my role in Annie, there’s a lot more dialogue and lots of acting, which is really fun to do and really interesting.”
“Those shows were also quite dark, and they were lovely and fantastic experiences, but Annie is just so funny and happy, with all the different energy of a comic musical. You leave every day with a smile on your face.”
“It’s good for the soul.”
Annie opens at the Lyric in Sydney from December 29, with engagements in Brisbane and Melbourne to follow in April and May.