Review: Annie, The Lyceum

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SET against a backdrop of early 1930s depression USA gripped by massive unemployment, poverty trap and homelessness, classic musical Annie uses optimism and humour and some great songs to tell the tale of a young orphan girl.

Played by the wonderful Lauren Arnison, Annie’s quest to find her parents is thwarted by Su Pollard as cruel orphanage boss Miss Hannigan, and her devious brother Rooster. After a series of fun filled adventures and impressive dance numbers, good triumphs evil via billionairre Oliver Warbucks (former Hollyoaks villain David McAlister) who has his heart melted by Annie and adopts her when she learns the fate of her real mum and dad.

It’s a timeless tale and a heart-warming family musical. First hitting the stage in 1977 after being adapted from Harold Gray’s comic strip Little Orphan Annie, it includes crowd favourites Easy Street, It’s A Hard Knock Life and the anthem of optimism, Tomorrow.

Su Pollard has progressed greatly since coming second to a singing jack russell on Opportunity Knocks some 45 years ago before playing hilarious chalet maid Peggy in Hi-de-Hi. Tonight she has the audience in stitches as the drunken villain. Her house of orphans featured the excellent members of the local Constance Grant Dance Centre. At the other end of the age scale amazing 80-year-old Audrey Leybourne, once one of the famed Roly Poly’s, was a revelation.

Much credit to Roger Hannah’s direction and choreography for keeping the production fresh and drawing laughs and tears at the same time from my good lady.

Finishes on Saturday.

Sean Bruce