Children and animals hold no fears for cast

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MUSICALS featuring children, especially ones less fortunate than most, have always appealed to the sympathy of audiences.

The latest to be seen locally, Annie, is no exception.

Presented by Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society at the Playhouse Whitlley Bay all this week, it is the story of little orphan Annie, originally a comic strip cartoon in numerous US newspapers that went on via the big screen to become a Broadway and West End show.

And what a heart-warming show it is as she yearns for a new life and happiness.

The hit Tomorrow sums it all up nicely – for Americans too in the Great Depression of the Thirties.

There are two alternating Annies in this finely observed production, Meg McGrady and Isobel Patterson. Strong in spirit, vulnerable, likeable and making the most of this demanding role.

There are also two well drilled teams of orphan girls.

The New York establishment where they are being brought up is run by a ruthless dragon of a creature, Miss Hannigan, played with obvious relish by Lesley-Anne Crawford. She rules with a rod of iron, so to speak.

Noteworthy performances in the show include Alan Davison, in fine voice as tough tycoon Oliver Warbucks, whose heart melts and who is instrumental in helping rescue Annie from her miserable existence.

Also, Phil Dixon as unscrupulous imposter Rooster Hannigan and his floosie of an accomplice Lily St Regis (Marie Swann), desperately trying to get their hands on the reward for Annie.

Another ‘star’ is Annie’s canine soul mate Sandy, otherwise known as Duke, coping admirably with all the action, lighting effects and general noise.

Traditionally, actors are advised to avoid working with animals and children. The cast in this production need have no fears on this score, for all work as a well directed team.

The grainy black and white film sequences of street life at that time of deprivation provided additional interest, but the sound levels – orchestra included – need watching so that they do not detract.

HARRY EDWARDS