Pollard says Hi-de-Hi to Wellington

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 14:45 05/12/2013
Sue Pollard
AMY JACKMAN/FAIRFAX
HI-DE-HI: Sue Pollard will play Miss Hannigan in Annie in Wellington next year.

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"Hi-de-hi Wellington," says British actor Su Pollard, who will come to the capital next May to perform in Annie.

The little red-headed orphan will appear at the St James Theatre from May 23 till June 8.

Pollard, who is famous for playing Peggy in the BBC's Hi-de-Hi!, will play the alcohol-soaked Miss Hannigan, the headmistress of the New York City Municipal Orphanage where Annie lives. 

She said Miss Hannigan was misunderstood as a character.

"I love that I get the chance to show all sides of her," she said.

"People say that she's just a mean old bag, but that's just one side of her. If you look close and listen to what she's saying she's not like that at all. She's had a terrible life. She's ended up with these rotten, stinkin' orphans who give her the run around.

"Annie keeps trying to escape and if anything happens to the girls she will lose her job."

Pollard said one of the parts that showed Miss Hannigan's true nature was when she was listening to the radio.

"She is listening to a series she listens to every day. The announcer says, 'We continue the story of so-and-so, which shows how it's still possible to find a man after the age of 35'. She replies that she hopes so."

Annie tells the tale of an orphan's journey from a New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks. It comes to New Zealand direct from a highly successful tour of Britain this year and features a cast of 32.

Annie, her nine fellow orphans and Sandy the dog will be cast from New Zealand talent.

Pollard is just as well-known for her eccentric dress off the stage as she is for her performances on it.

She has appeared in numerous musicals and plays around the world including Godspell, Me and My Girl, Shout!, Grease, and Little Shop of Horrors.

"I've always loved the complete package [of musicals]," she said.

"I like a story, but the story continues in the songs. It's great to be able to combine a great acting role with other things.

"Especially because if you're not careful, what you learn in one area can go out the window. So it's nice to be able to combine it all."

Annie made its Broadway debut in April 1977 and ran for 2377 performances before closing in 1983. It won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book for Thomas Meehan, Best Original Score with the music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, and Best Choreography.

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The timeless tale was still relevant today, Pollard said. "A lot of it's about the terrible Wall St attitude, the economy. There's a great number called Hooverville, where all the richest people in the world now live in a shanty.

"Art imitates life. That sort of thing is still going on. It's why it's lasted the test of time."

Other British stars joining Pollard in Wellington are David McAlister from The Bill, Eastenders, and Hollyoaks; Frazer Hines from Emmerdale and Doctor Who; and Sue Hodge and John D Collins from 'Allo 'Allo.

Producer James Cundall, chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, said bringing the actors to New Zealand was a dream come true.

"Su Pollard became a national treasure in the UK with her performance in Hi-de-Hi!. She demonstrated that unbelievable comedic timing, which she will bring to the role of Miss Hannigan.

"New Zealand is in for a real treat." Annie, St James Theatre, Courtenay Place, May 23 till June 8, tickets available now from Ticketek.

- The Wellingtonian

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