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WYP Stage Annie For Xmas Starring Preston & Rushworth

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West Yorkshire Playhouse will stage a major revival of the 1977 Broadway musical Annie this Christmas, with a cast that includes Duncan Preston, Verity Rushworth, Sarah Ingram and Emma Barton.

The production, which is directed by Nikolai Foster, will open in the Quarry Theatre at the Leeds venue on 30 November 2011 (previews from 21 November) where it will run until 21 January 2012.

The role of Annie will be shared by Sophie Downham and Phoebe Roberts, who both participated in the theatre's open auditions over the summer, and saw off competition from 400 other young actresses. They are joined by 36 other local girls who will form two teams of orphans.

Charles Strouse's musical, which has lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan, won seven Tony Awards when it debuted in New York in 1977 - transferring to the West End's Victoria Palace Theatre a year later. The musical was immortalised on film in 1982 with a cast which included Albert Finney, Bernadette Peters and Tim Curry and was choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

The musical has toured extensively in both the UK and America and was last seen in the West End in 1998 starring Lesley Joseph and Lily Savage as Miss Hannigan. The show includes a number of classic songs such as "The Hard Knock Life", "Little Girls", "Easy Street" and, of course, "Tomorrow".

Set in Depression-era America, Annie tells the story of a firey-haired orphan girl - with her dog Sandy as a sidekick - who is desperate to escape an oppressive orphanage run by child-hating Miss Hannigan (Ingram). When millionaire Daddy Warbucks (Preston), alongside his ever-helpful secretary Grace (Rushworth), decides to adopt Annie, her dreams start to come true - with a few hitches.

Bradford-born Duncan Preston is a long time collaborator of comedienne Victoria Wood and has been seen in shows such as Acorn Antiques, Dinnerladies and Victoria Wood as Seen on TV. He recently joined the cast of ITV's Emmerdale and has been seen on stage in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ex-Emmerdale actress Verity Rushworth has recently toured the UK as Maria in the touring production of The Sound of Music. Her other credits include Departure Lounge at Waterloo East and the West End production of Hairspray.

Emma Barton spent three years appearing on EastEnders and has just finished playing Roxie Hart in Chicago in the West End, a role she played on tour in 2009. Sarah Ingram's stage credits include Flashdance, My Fair Lady, Singin' In The Rain and Inherit the Wind.

The rest of the company have been announced as Darren Bennett, Wayne Fitzssimmons, Keri Flanagan, Paul Hazel, Kirby Hughes, Philip Marriott, Martin Neely, Sevan Stephan, Alwyne TaylorAmira Matthews and Vicki Lee Taylor.

WYP associate Nikolai Foster is reunited with designer Colin Richmond for the production. The pair collaborated on last year's Playhouse production of A Christmas Carol.


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