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Annie (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Set in December 1933 as America lies in the grip of the Depression, Annie is a feel-good show that takes its audience on an uplifting ride.

Little red head moppet Annie has been left at the municipal orphanage as a baby, with a note and half a locket. Eleven years later she is still waiting for her parents to come and collect her, but she is getting impatient. A self-made billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, is looking to offer an orphan a two week holiday at his 5th Avenue home; and so the two come together.

Victoria Sian Lewis as Annie is superb; she sings beautifully and gives the role the right amount of spunk so that although you feel sorry for the little orphan, you also admire her too. David McAlister is a tender-hearted Oliver Warbucks and Simone Craddock an elegant Grace Farrell.

Su Pollard is a delight to watch as the drunken harridan Miss Hannigan, and with her kooky comedy style makes the role very much her own. The show has a very strong ensemble cast and some sparkling performances - notably Ashley Knight as Drake the butler.

The team of children playing the orphans give everything to create a group of distinctive individuals - the tiny girl playing Molly was truly enchanting - and I must give a mention to Danny the Dogas as Sandy, who acts on cue and steals the hearts of the audience, every time.

Roger Hannah's direction plays on all the emotions and optimism that the show can give, but does it without it being schmaltzy - a clever feat.

- Helen Jones

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