Published On: Tue, Sep 8th, 2009

Annie, Empire Theatre, Liverpool. September 2009

A story about an orphaned girl, the depression, 1930’s American society and the undercurrent of child beating doesn’t spring to mind the plot of a heart warming musical that combines some of theatre’s best known songs with some feisty one liners and cheekiness, but in the hands of director Roger Hannah and produces Chris Moreno this classic of film and theatre has been given new life.

With a score that included the well sung “It’s a Hard Knock Life”, the excellent “Easy Street” ,“I Don’t Need Anything But You” and the tremendous and often mimicked but never equalled “Tomorrow” it was impossible to be bored and not take part.

There was much to eulogise about in this performance. The acting, dancing and singing skills of the main adult performers, including David McAlister as the billionaire Oliver Warbucks, James Gavin as low life con-man Rooster Hannigan and especially the incomparable Su Pollard as Miss Hannigan who simply oozes talent in everything she does. This should not take anything away from the rest of the strong cast who made the whole evening a joy.

Above all of them though stood young Lydia Tunstall, who played the part of Annie herself who hit every note and every step as if she had been playing the part for years, whether she was dancing with the other orphaned girls or with main cast she was quite admirable.

The elephant in the room that some touring companies tend to forget is the costume design, save for the heroic efforts of Carol Webster in costumes and Bex Rees in Wardrobe who showed how integral the right clothes are for the right setting.

An exceptional evening without doubt.

Ian D. Hall

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