With perhaps one of the best-known songs in the history of musicals as its anchor, Annie gives children of all ages the perfect opportunity to show off their acting, singing and dancing talents to the full, and Directors Will Ross-Jones and Mike Mullen have made the most of the abilities of the show’s huge cast to create a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
Originally based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the Tony Award-winning Broadway show premiered in 1977, followed in 1982 by the film version which starred Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. Since then it has continued to be revived all over the world.
The story revolves around the fortunes of our heroine Annie (Lily Rochard), who we first meet in an orphanage run by the alcoholic dragon who is Miss Hannigan, the matron (Danniella Green). Lily, in her first major role with CPYT, showed a maturity way beyond her 12 years, and never put a foot wrong, taking ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘I Think I’m Going To Like It Here’ in her stride, while Danniella delivered a great comic character, ‘Little Girls’ being the stand-out number, showing her utter dislike of her orphaned charges.
During the course of the show we meet billionaire Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks (a slightly diffident Karcsi Wright), who plucks Annie out of the orphanage and ultimately adopts her, Ciara Harman’s nicely-judged Grace Farrell (Warbucks’ secretary), and the scheming pair ex-con Rooster (Sam Archer-Scott) and brassy Lily St. Regis (Immie Crabtree), both intent on conning Warbucks out of the huge reward on offer by posing as Annie’s long-lost parents, their ‘Easy Street’ number with Miss Hannigan, Rooster’s sister, signalling their clear intent to defraud the billionaire.
Of course the main strength of CPYT is the chorus, with a huge and varied cast of boys and girls of all ages, and they were never better used than in the many ensemble numbers, ‘Hard Knock Life’, ‘Hooverville’ and ‘A New Deal For Christmas’ being particularly strong.
Great credit, too, to Choreographers Kiera Leech and Ashley Sheath for their achievement in getting so many children to move in the same direction at the same time, to Musical Director Nigel Finch and his excellent band of musicians and to the huge Wardrobe team under the direction of Nicki Moohouse. The show may only be running until the end of the week, but there’s an awful lot of enjoyment packed into those three nights.