This production celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Stage Experience, a chance for local children (9-24 years old) to perform on a professional stage with a professional production team.
The cast of 136 (two thirds of whom who are under the age of 16) were superb, especially as everything was learnt and perfected in 10 days! Enthusiasm and talent shone from the stage from every member of the cast. With the size of the cast some of the big songs gave room for people to hide and step down a notch, but everyone seemed to give even more in these moments to ensure they stood out from the crowd. The dancing in Hard Knock Life was especially jaw dropping as the smallest kids executed the complex dance moves with as much precision as the older ones creating a stage full of energy.
The principals were as impressive as the chorus. Georgia Millie Price was delightful as Annie with the perfect balance of self confidence and vulnerability. Miss Hannigan (Katie Gladwin) was deliciously cruel and selfish, her interactions with the orphans were a joy to watch. Little Molly (Naina Reddy) tugged at the heart strings as the cutest orphan. Richard Batham (Oliver Warbucks) had one of the most difficult jobs playing one of the oldest characters in the show, however he managed to capture the essence of Warbucks and had a lovely chemistry with Annie. Rosie Coles showed beautiful poise and stage presence in her role as Grace Farrell.
Mention has to go the technical team, 13 of whom were children as part of Stage Experience. You would never have realised they didn't do this for a living.
Annie is a credit to the production team and the whole cast and crew whose enjoyment was obvious.
With standards of performance and talent this high I would be very surprised if many of the young performers are not gracing the professional stage in the future.
- Annette Nuttall