Jerald Smith reviews Bilston Operatic's show stopping performance of Annie at the Wolverhampton Grand. Check out our video with the brilliant Danny the dog.
The 1982 film version of Annie succeeded in attracting lots of young girls to the cinemas and into performing arts. Thirty-one years later and Bilston Operatic is bringing the show to life at the Grand this week.
In essence it’s about a little foundling girl’s confidence that everything in her life will turn out for the best, set against the 1930s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal, which marked the turning point for the American economy.
It’s definitely a feel-good show and the cast make the most of the opportunity to put that message over. Last night’s opening saw 12-year old Phoebe Bruerton in the title role give confident performances of Tomorrow and, supported by the orphanage girls, lively versions of Hard Knock Life and Maybe.
She is taken from the orphans’ home by billionaire industrialist Oliver Warbucks, who eventually wants to adopt her, and John Halford’s portrayal is both powerful and convincing, with his NYC being quite captivating.
The characters of orphanage boss Miss Hannigan (Lucy-Ellen Parker), Rooster (John Sheard) and his girlfriend Lily (Emily Halford) may have been just a little too larger-than-life, though their Easy Street was delivered in considerable style.
There’s some spirited chorus work, with choreography by Laura Canadine, and musical director Jonathan Hill and his pit band play Charles Strouse’s music most effectively, while Andy Poulton’s production generally shows admirable energy and flair.
It has to be said, the real star of the show is of course, world record holding dog Danny. Danny the Telford terrier is appearing coming out of retirement and appearing as Annie's dog sandy!