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Annie – Spa Pavilion Theatre, Felixstowe

Music: Charles Strouse

Book: Thomas Meehan

Lyrics: Martin Charnin

Director: Michael Crane

Reviewer: Glen Pearce

[rating:4]

Never work with Children or animals, the showbiz saying goes. Felixstowe Musical Theatre throws caution to the wind and stage a show featuring both.

Charles Strouse’s 1977 musical, Annie, may pack in plenty of razzmatazz show stoppers but it doesn’t shy away from tackling the bigger issues as well. Poverty, abuse and orphanage life not being the usual subjects when thinking of a family musical.

It’s a challenge the company never shies away from but without forgetting the humour that’s prevalent in Martin Charnin’s lyrics. The required big song and dance numbers are there but there’s also moments when the show focuses down on the inner feelings of an eleven-year-old coming to terms with her abandonment.

That shift in mood is a tough call for any actress but young Aimee Butcher in the title rôle takes it all in her stride. Combining both a cheeky rebelliousness with an inner hurt, Butcher captures Annie perfectly.

Of course, sadly Annie isn’t the only girl in the orphanage and the young company of supporting actresses have great fun in the energetic chorus numbers with buckets and mops being wielded with fervour in Hard Knock Life.

While the children of course steal the show, let’s not forget the adults. Chris Branch’s Oliver Warbucks captures the slow thaw of steely businessman to adoptive father figure well while Sally Branch also impresses as Warbucks’ secretary Grace.

No musical comedy would be complete without its villains and Jacki Williamson’s Miss Hannigan nearly elicts sympathy for having to deal with her girls before she conspires with her shady brother Rooster (David Crane) and his latest girlfriend Lily St. Regis (Lottie Hicks).

On opening night there was a need for a bit more pace and attack in some sections and the staging, while managing to convey the shifting locations well, does tend to slow down flow with some slow and cumbersome scene transitions.

If the company can overcome these small issues then the future looks as bright as Annie’s. With the current gloomy weather, any show that promises the sun will come out tomorrow has to be welcome.

Runs until 16th June

 

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