“The sun will come out tomorrow…” no words could have been more welcome on the day I went to watch ‘Annie’ in Bridgnorth in the midst of storm Doris; and this warm and joyful production from Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company was indeed one of the most uplifting and sunny renditions of this much-loved musical I’ve ever seen.
Who doesn’t know the story of Annie the little orphan girl, who is swept away from the evil clutches of Miss Hannigan to spend Christmas with billionaire ‘Daddy’ Warbucks and, as she works her optimistic magic on everyone she encounters from beggars to presidents, puts heart back into depression blighted New York?
The whole cast, production crew, direction and choreography, the band and musical direction were pretty much faultless from the opening bar to the standing ovation at the finish. It’s not often that my husband is reduced to tears or that one experiences spine tingling moments not just once, but numerous times in an amateur production – but Bridgnorth gave it everything.
We saw a star in the making in young Kate Woodman in the title role – an old hand at this show having had a professional turn in the UK touring production. Her singing and acting was without doubt believable and endearing – her Annie really was a special girl who really could make the world a better place. One of the high points being when she brings unity and joy to President Roosevelt and his world weary advisors, and they join together to sing; that’s the magic of ‘Annie’ which is so often lacking in other productions.
With some superb chorus street scenes, wonderfully choreographed dancing and singing from Warbuck’s staff and the young orphans – who were outstanding – the whole cast worked hard to create a truly believable New York in the 1920’s and bring this story to life. There were no ‘stalled moments’; the show flowed effortlessly from scene to scene with so many comic details and touches that really you could see it over and over to catch them all. Every cast member was acting the entire time they were on stage and there was movement and energy throughout.
There were so many stand out performances that it’s difficult to mention them all; but one of the real joys was the chemistry between the three ‘villains’: Miss Hannigan – played brilliantly by Saskia Fuchs; her brother Rooster (Joe James) and his ‘doll’ Lily (Lora Rogers) – they were truly wonderful to behold in their ‘Easy Street’ as they plotted to swindle Warbucks and grab Annie.
It was the depth of the characterisation: from the orphans who filled their stage time brilliantly, never stopping playing their parts; the intricacies of the three villains and the brilliant Radio Show hosts – a scene which can often drag but this time was hilariously entertaining – which highlights the exceptional direction from Louise Welsby. It was the second time that Louise has directed Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company, and she clearly has an eye for detail and allows performers to develop ideas and movements which gives the characters such a genuine feel.
A joy to behold. Well done Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company for a sterling show which was a sell out for every performance. Just a couple of final mentions – to the brilliant Emma Parker who not only ‘steers the ship’ as chairman of the company, performs alongside her mother and daughter with older daughter and husband backstage, but who also played a wonderful and faultless Grace. To Misty the dog, who was just gorgeous if a little stage shy; and to Mabel Edwards who played Annie in the matinee performances and was, by all accounts, equally terrific. I’m just sorry I won’t get to see her perform because I really would like to see ‘Annie’ all over again.