Review: Annie, Sunderland Empire

ANNIE is more than a tale of a spunky, red-headed orphan looking for her family – though this is what ultimately leaves the audience with hearts aglow.

Su Pollard as Miss Hannigan in Annie at the Sunderland Empire

ANNIE is more than a tale of a spunky, red-headed orphan looking for her family – though this is what ultimately leaves the audience with hearts aglow.

The musical was created from a Depression-era newspaper cartoon strip and retains some political commentary. President Roosevelt counts among its characters and when he commands his economic advisors to join in a rendition of Tomorrow, a way out of the Depression is born.

Perhaps Gordon Brown should be told. The dour PM singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” would be on-message – and undoubtedly get lots of YouTube hits.

Little Lydia Tunstall (alternating with Chloe Greig as the eponymous heroine) sings it best, however. She makes a fine Annie, having a strong voice, sure delivery and expressive elbows.

Despite her charm, the biggest “aah” of opening night went to Danny the Dog, appearing on his eighth tour with the show as Annie’s stray pal.

Su Pollard, who to me will be forever Peggy from Hi-De-Hi!, is unrecognisable as half-cut Miss Hannigan, head of the orphanage. And she particularly shines in the number Easy Street as she looks forward to “dripping in pearls” rather than girls.

The story takes off when, despite Miss Hannigan’s best efforts, Annie is whisked away to stay with billionaire Oliver Warbucks for Christmas.

David McAlister, a veteran of too many productions to mention, makes a dashing Daddy Warbucks, most unlike Albert Finney’s character in the 1982 film.

Comparisons aside, my nine-year-old loved the show which is, after all, a hymn to the wondrous-ness of little girls, played, Annie aside, by pupils of Sunderland’s own Kathleen Knox School of Dance.

 
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