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A nice way to spend an evening at the theatre, watching Annie.  The story is well-known and this was a traditional production, with a good cast of orphans who gave their all.

The set was fairly basic, but borrowed a lot from the comic book feel that Annie has its roots in.

The direction was fairly conventional, as with these long-established musicals it is difficult to make too many radical changes.  It was enjoyable and the different nuances of the characters ringed the changes as always.

Lighting and sound was good throughout, but personally I would have liked the lib to have been mic’d as well as the musical numbers, as there was a disparity in sound level at times.

The band created a good sound, loved the overture, a real celebration of the music.  Musically sound, there were some nice harmonies.  It was good to see Tom Arnold taking charge in the pit, for a young man he does exceedingly well, a pleasure to watch.

The costumes were fine, suitable for the people wearing them, overall they did the job.  

Choreography was good, some different takes on the traditional, as in the tap dance for NYC.

As befits the show, the star of the piece was Emily Albert as Annie. Emily seemed so natural, but beautifully expressive, with lovely original interpretations both in the lib and the musical numbers.  Good relationships created, I loved Emily’s performance.  Very well done – definitely one to watch!  Although considering her parentage it comes as no surprise that she is so talented and at home on stage!

The named orphans, Aira-Lilly Lowndes (Molly), Layla Hardiman (Pepper), Poppy Goaman (Duffy), Grace Rogers (Tessie) Charlotte Lovelock (July) and Jessica Albert (Kate), all helped to make this a really good grouping, with plenty of expression and contrasts.

The group of orphans also played their parts well.

I liked the fact that two lads – Robert Lovelock and Jordan Hiepner were involved in the main ensemble numbers, it gave a nice dimension, and they acquitted themselves well.

Sarah Albert’s Miss Hannigan was slightly less OTT than some I’ve seen, the character benefitted from the portrayal, making her a little more human, but her delivery and interpretation of Little Girls was still hard-hitting and nicely evil!  Loved the wig, it looked good, and the relationships created gave us a nicely rounded character.

Courtney Buttigieg created a sympathetic Grace Farrell, her relationships with Warbucks, Annie and Miss Hannigan were all believable, and her costumes were also very charming.  A good portrayal.

Paul Rogers gave Daddy Warbucks a different feel, I liked the relationship between Daddy and Annie.

Barry Hyde created a good Rooster, plenty of swagger, and matched by Jonika Kinchin as Lily.  I liked their transformation into the Mudge’s.

The other parts are too numerous to mention by name, however I liked the various groupings, especially the Cabinet of Victoria Reilly, Scott Newman, Nigel Cain, and David Thomas, ably led by Alan Purton.

I thought an opportunity was missed in the Radio scene, I wanted more emphasis to create the comedy against the angst of Warbucks.  The Boylan Sisters had some nice action going on as the other action was played out, but it didn’t always work for me.

The household staff created good characters, and I liked Drake’s little skip off when he heard about Annie’s adoption.

Last but by no means least, was Sydney the dog who played Sandy – he was really cute, appeared to do everything asked of him, and of course the audience loved him!

A charming evening’s entertainment, lifted for me by the performances of Emily Albert and Sarah Albert.

Phoenix Players  “ANNIE”   10th August 2018

@ Luton Library Theatre

   Director:  Jackie Hensley

MD: Tom Arnold      

Choreographers:  Kelly Sheppard-Jones & Jackie Hensley


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