Review: Annie Jr, by the Blackmore Youth Theatre
PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 June 2019
‘The enthusiasm and energy of the performers, aged between just seven and 16, simply shone out into the auditorium’
The sun may have been hiding behind the clouds this month but it certainly came out by the bucketful when the Blackmore Youth Theatre presented their production of Annie jr. at the Blackmore Theatre in Exmouth!
Based on the award-winning Best Musical by Meehan, Strouse and Charnin, this adaptation written especially for junior groups contained all the favourite characters and well-known songs of the original.
From the opening number the story breezed along at a cracking pace, and the enthusiasm and energy of the young performers, all aged between seven and 16, simply shone out into the auditorium. Playing little orphan Annie in alternate performances, both Olivia Hall and Lottie Blundell - one more ethereal and quietly determined while the other more feisty and up-front - wowed their audiences in the role. Toby Hill played "billionaire" Oliver Warbucks with a maturity beyond his years, and was gently supported by Sophie Ridley as his secretary Grace- the epitome of her name. The three protagonists on "Easy Street", Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lily were very well interpreted by Victoria Bungay, Billy Curtis and Sophie Ridley, and Barnaby Rush made a distinct and deferential impression as Butler Drake while Mark Langdon was the essence of a New York cop! Zachary Melhuish was memorable as radio presenter Bert Healy accompanied by the singing Boyland Sisters, Anna Kifli-Reynolds, Annabel Yorston and Evelyn Maddock who were simply delightful! The large cast of 35 in a seemingly multitude of roles gave a great company feel to the show and must have made for a hectic time backstage! The singing was well orchestrated under Musical Director Naomi Blundell, with some dynamic chorus numbers, scene changes were smoothly performed under the guidance of Stage Manager Gill Bates, lighting well-designed and operated by Jake Van De Burg, costumes were just right and the backdrops of the NY skyline, orphanage and mansion very impressive. Director and Choreographer Tracey Hamilton, and Co-Director Mike Hamilton certainly put together a terrific production, and all "fully dressed" with lots of smiles on stage and in the audience - the dog was lovely too!
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