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Annie (Leeds)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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As the festive season really comes into full swing, the Quarry Theatre stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse is set alight with the familiar sights and sounds of Annie.

Set in New York against the gloomy backdrop of the 1930s economic depression, Annie is a story of optimism and perseverance with the required injection of gleeful song and dance.

The cast are excellent; always nervous of a child performer, I was genuinely impressed with the talent of Sophie Downham who played the role of Annie with a believability and humour that would match an actress of twice her age. Avoiding the rabbit hole of being sickly sweet, Sophie gave a charming and alluring performance.

Perhaps my favourite character is Miss Hannigan, played by an excellent Sarah Ingram. There is always a risk when playing a role as iconic as Miss Hannigan that the performance becomes merely a mirror of previous interpretations, however Ingram avoided this trap, adding a mirth and humour that became the highlight of the production.

Her polished performance even more complimented by her partners in crime Rooster (Darren Bennet) and Lily (Emma Barton) who were both equally deliciously depraved in perfectly executed performances. Oliver Warbucks (Duncan Preston) too, pitched the character perfectly – adding a warmth and humility whilst still remaining believable.

Colin Richmond's set is fabulous and would rival any West End stage, with creative interpretations of New York streets, cinemas and billionaire homes. Even more impressive was the window screen behind the stage which gave well timed glimpses of the talented orchestra, led by George Dyer.

Annie is the perfect piece of Christmas theatre. Not exactly ground breaking, but light hearted, festive and exuberant; performanced by an excellent cast and with excellent set and costume design. A faultless and impressive interpretation of a classic family tale.


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