The Dutch production is, in my opinion, superior to most UK and US productions for several reasons.
I prefer the music in the Dutch version as, although an orchestra was used, guitars and synthesised sound were used, too. It sounds so much better, more modern and upbeat, than the traditional orchestra of the Broadway and West End shows.
Then there's the tempo in Hard Knock Life. I don't like any of the English versions much, as they're slower in comparison to the Dutch one. There's none of the anger and the feeling. The only English version which has come close, in terms of being faster and not using a traditional orchestra, is the 1999 movie version. Although I agree, the movie as a whole was rubbish.
Perhaps it's just me not liking the traditional orchestra so much.
I also think the choreography used in the Dutch version of Hard Knock Life was better. It was usually altered for the girls TV appearances, as the song was shortened, but not always. See here for the full version.
You'll see how the 20-year-old playing Pepper doesn't really look so out of place. The producers were able to use her being older to their advantage in some scenes, like here, when she helps Molly out of the laundry cart after Hard Knock Life and later, Annie into it. Some other, younger girls wouldn't have been able to do that. the same happened in Smile.
The producers had to use an adult Pepper for several reasons. With 10 Annies and 10 of each of the other orphans, there were 60 girls in the cast and 60 minors in one production at the same time is an awful lot. They had to hire several child wranglers to look after the cast backstage and on appearances and several tutors to help them keep up with their schoolwork. Then, there was food and accomodation. Many of the girls couldn't go home, even when there was several weeks between their performances, so the producers had to put them up in a hotel, even when they weren't working. They also had to pay them all and, even though they were only paid when they worked, it all added up.
One of the girls who was cast as Annie, Neeltje De Vree, had a sister, Lieve De Vree, who could also sing, dance and act. She was very experienced and looked quite young for 20 years old, so rather than cast 10 Peppers, they decided to cast her and save some money. Not only did they save 10 times the money in wages, accomodation and food, Lieve didn't need a wrangler or a tutor, she was able to do every show and they were able to use in the ensemble, rather than employing another ensemble player. She played a servant and a Hooverville-ite.
Lieve understudied Annie because the Dutch government are very very strict regarding children only performing 24 shows a year and children can't do any more than that, even as an understudy. The girls show rota was worked out with military precision as allowing a girl to do more than 24 shows, would've had serious legal and professional consequences for the producers.
If an Annie had understudied another Annie, she would've 'used up' one of the 24 shows she was allowed to perform and messed up the show rota. Also the girls were grouped according to their height and vocal type (eg alto, soprano) so they couldn't play so well with other groups. Lieve played well all the groups and using her kept the show rota intact. Orphans, when ill, were also understudied by adults for the same reason. It only happened a handful of times in over two years.
I hope this clears things up. Sorry for any spelling errors, I'm really rushing as I have to go.