This little orphan Annie won the hearts of a packed first night audience full of youngsters enjoying a school holiday treat and with more than a few real-life sisters, cousins and aunts to cheer her on.
As Anne Robertson-Ewart, who heads the group, points out in a big glossy programme to match this fizzing production, many of the cast ARE related and some have been acting together for decades.
And if the confident, energetic youngsters involved in this production are anything to go by, their future is looking starry for many years to come.
Of course, Gail Angove, directing for the first time, is working with award winning material and a fantastic storyline that was a smash-hit on Broadway in the seventies and has toured the world ever since. But getting a very large cast to act together as one on this enchanting stage, is really clever.
The story was written by Thomas Meehan, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin and is an all-American tale of the orphan who desperately wants to find her parents, and is helped in her quest by President Roosevelt, no less, and the billionaire who is to become “Daddy” Warbucks, or should that read Starbucks.
On the opening night, Annie was faultlessly played by Rachel Millington, the 13-year-old Shirley Temple of the Redruth group, with stunning assurance and fantastic backing from her fellow ‘ginger’ orphans. Emily Bradley-Leah shares the role with her own orphans this week.
The show opens with the sad, drab New York orphanage run by a soak called Miss Hannigan, who you want to call Miss Harridan, acted by Michelle Moses, who knows how to belt out a song or two, and gives it everything she’s got, which is considerable.
Her foil is the ladylike Grace, Roxanne Dash, who looks the part as personal assistant to the towering Warbucks, Keith Edwards, who had his head shaved for the role and also for Barnardo’s, the children’s charity.
Colin Groom is in his element as the butler, Drake, and Aaron Ebling and Alannah Egan make the perfect pair, scheming to make their fortunes by claiming to be Annie’s parents. Glen Moses is a convincing Roosevelt and all are in great voice.
Musical director Alastair Taylor heads the impressive and impeccable band playing stand-out favourites, Tomorrow, Maybe and Hard Knock Life. Frances Sergeant as children’s choreographer deserves a medal for presenting a really well rehearsed bunch of kids.
The stage is deftly transformed from orphanage to NBC radio station and finally the glittering Warbucks mansion with bright balloons, just-right costumes and excellent lighting by Simon Hutchings.
Have I forgotten someone? Oh yes, golden retriever Sandy also takes a bow to add to the aaaah and the wow factor of this super show.