Review: Annie at Sunderland Empire

IT’S a heart-warming tale of a little girl’s rise from rags to riches which brings a smile to everyone’s face.

The cast of the musical Annie
The cast of the musical Annie

IT’S a heart-warming tale of a little girl’s rise from rags to riches which brings a smile to everyone’s face.

The musical tells the adventures of a plucky orphan from the orphanage to the luxurious home of Oliver Warbucks where she gets a Christmas invite.

Although it’s been told for decades, the story perhaps has more resonance with today’s audience as it is set in the Big Apple during the 1930s Great Depression and mass unemployment.

President Roosevelt is among its characters and when he tells his advisors to sing Tomorrow, a path out of the Depression is suddenly discovered. David Cameron and Nick Clegg take note.

However, most of these subjects are addressed during big musical numbers so audiences won’t be crying into their hankies.

Annie is played with great gusto by 13-year-old Lauren (alternating with Rachel Hall and Victoria Sian Lewis as the heroine). She makes a fine Annie with a strong voice and solid expression.

Star of stage and screen, Su Pollard (Hi-De-Hi) is the dastardly Miss Hannigan and David McAlister (Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Mike Bassett TV and Brideshead Revisited) makes a welcome return as the billionaire Oliver Warbucks.

Su plays the hard-drinking boss of the orphanage with great style and humour. Her light-hearted comedy in the first act evolves to show a darker side in act two and the audience were captivated throughout.

Annie and Mr Warbucks eventually foil the evil plans of scheming Miss Hannigan and her con artist brother Rooster.

Annie is a perfect Christmas show for children and there were lots of happy little ones belting out Tomorrow as we left the Empire.

 

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