Duke of York's Royal Military School

Drama Blog - Annie Performed By Our Confident Year 5

Published by Dolphin School on Thursday 16th of March 2023

Having been reliably informed by both the Music and Dance teachers that this year’s Year 5 group are talented singers and dancers, it felt like the right time to take on the challenge of mounting a musical.  I realise that Dolphin’s Drama department is slightly unusual compared to the vast majority of schools, in so far as we don’t generally do musicals, mainly because the Head of Drama doesn’t know how to! But this year we bravely took the plunge.

The gutsy, outspoken Annie actually started life as a comic strip character in 1924. Daddy Warbucks and Annie very quickly became a regular part of American culture and lore, inspiring a radio show, several movies, a Broadway musical, and a 1995 postage stamp.  In the musical and the various movies, Little Orphan Annie triumphs over adversity relatively easily but it was a very different story in the comic strip.  The brave orphan with a heart of gold and a fast left faced an endless onslaught of challenges both on and off the page.  She survived everything from shipwreck to mob hits as her creator, the cartoonist and conservative political thinker, Harold Gray, painted her into a corner each week.  But the real threats to Annie’s survival came from newspaper editors, who occasionally objected to plotlines in which the plucky redhead appeared to be little more than a mouthpiece for  Gray’s controversial political views!

The title for Gray’s comic strip was borrowed from the 1885 poem, Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley.  However, the actual character of Annie was drawn from real life and was based on a little girl Gray accidentally bumped into on the streets of Chicago.

I talked to this little kid and liked her right away.  She had common sense, knew how to take care of herself.  She had to.  Her name was Annie.  At the time some 40 strips were using boys as the main characters… I chose Annie for mine and made her an orphan, so she’d have no family, no tangling alliances, but freedom to go where she pleased.

As always, it is impossible to mount a major musical without a huge amount of support from all members of the Dolphin community; whether that is the lone parent at home listening to their child learning their lines, or Phil building a laundry basket in his shed at the bottom of the field, or Mr Leakey using his charm and powers of persuasion to request extra time with the radio mikes at no extra cost, or Ruth digging herself out from under a mountain of costumes and organising them neatly, or Libby’s outrageous optimism that we will all learn the steps for that tricky dance, or Antonia spending hours purloining the many, many props from every nook and cranny and Emma staying up far too late replying to many many e mails, or the talented band members giving up their Sunday to rehearse - there are so many to mention. 

But the BIGGEST thanks has to go to Anne Light, who held this whole production together with her extraordinary dedication, wicked organisation, gentle reminders to the director, all at the same time as teaching the many songs not just for Annie but also the Early Years show, Year 1’s show and Year 2’s show!  Thank you, Anne.

And as predicted, Year 5 rose to the challenge beautifully; the Head of Drama still has a lot to learn but at least she has made a start!

Drama Blog - Annie Performed By Our Confident Year 5 - Photo 1Drama Blog - Annie Performed By Our Confident Year 5 - Photo 2
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