Saturday, 11 February 2017

"Annie" by Act One
Hind Leys Theatre, Shepshed.
My first visit to Hind Leys Theatre, and my first taste of Act One. I knew from what I'd heard and to people that I'd spoken to that Act One were good, so I expected a good show.
I didn't get a good show.... I got a brilliant show. I was really taken aback as to how good and how professional and the quality to this production. Hind Leys have a wonderful working theatre and a great cast of very talented actors.
I think we all know the "Annie" story, where little orphan Annie is left as a child on the steps of a New York orphanage ran by the nasty Miss Hannigan. Annie is taken in by the billionaire Oliver Warbucks who then chooses to adopt her. Annie is waiting though for her real parents to come back and collect her, so Warbucks runs a nationwide campaign to track down Annie's parents, which is where the greedy Hannigans try and pull a fast one.
A big cast who work so well together and apart from the main characters there are some wonderful characters in minor roles.
Adrian Dobson has changed up a few things from the standard production and I think that this production is the only one that started off showing how Annie was left at the orphanage. From that point on, I knew that it would be something just a little bit special.
Bella Ramsey (Annie) is a fizzing ball of attitude and confidence and I loved her voice. Gone is the typical Annie wig and a shorter cut which looked more fashionable. loved the fact as well that she was completely unfazed when Sandy the dog, played by Lola, decided that she didn't want to go to Annie when called and wandered off stage. Bella kept in character and waited for Lola to return to the script.
Danni Starkey (Miss Hannigan) was wonderful as the alcoholic bully; a lovely character performance from Danni who made me believe everything that she said, and another actor who oozed confidence.
Jack Cooling (Oliver Warbucks) really impressed me on many levels. Jack can act a lot older than his age and make that character believable. He is also blessed with a very mature voice and a coolness that belies his age. I noticed at the finale he held himself with the air of a performer. His chin slightly lifted, which any singer will tell you is how you're supposed to sing out in order to project with ease. He's going to go far.
Oliver Halford (Rooster) and Jemma Taylor (Lily) worked well as a pair and brought some of the comedy to the show.
Kate Muller (Grace Farrell) exuded an air of cool as Warbucks right hand woman.
I also loved the comedy and typical Britishness of Drake, the butler, played with brilliant comedy by Ben Dawson.
Some wonderful choreography carried out by Warbuck's staff, including an en pointe tap routine. Choreographer for the production was by Wendy Spencer.
The scene in the radio station on Bert Healey's show was also a nice comedy section, led by Bert himself played by Jacob Beasley.
Another lovely comedy section was the boardroom scene with President Roosevelt, played by Tom Malpass.
A massive cast, and I wish I could name check all of you because i could tell that every single actor on that stage showed their passion for what they were doing, no matter how small the role.
With such a large cast, and a wonderful set, designed by Adrian Dobson, the stage management had to be tight, and it was Kevin Spencer who made sure that there were no embarrassing gaps and kept it fluent.
The orchestra sounded wonderful under the musical direction of Hazel Needham and complemented the on stage actors voices perfectly.
There could be so many people not onstage that I also could mention but again, no space, but all of these cogs in the well-oiled Act One theatre machine worked exactly as they should and made this show a massive success.
I for one will look forward to seeing the next Act One performance because they won me over for the sheer talent, quality and professionalism of everyone on and off stage. It was well worth the three bus journey to see a show of this calibre.

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