Happy homes for Hartley and Annie as curtain set to rise on Aylsham High School’s musical show

Stage star Hartley the dog can sympathise with the plight of his leading lady in Aylsham High School's production of the hit musical Annie.

Just like the little orphan of the tale's title, golden retriever Hartley was in need of a loving new home - and found one.

Five-year-old Hartley, who plays Annie's dog Sandy in the show, came to live with Janet Barnard in Aylsham after being re-homed through the Eastern Counties Golden Retriever Club, based in Great Abington, Cambridgeshire.

Happy Hartley's tail is likely to wag even more vigorously after the show's final curtain falls.

Co-producer Tanya Wiseman explained that Hartley had to be taught only to respond to Annie (Alex Hever) and two pupil handlers, Greg Wills and Tom Atkins, so that he didn't head off across stage at the wrong moment in search of a friendly pat.


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'The children have been dying to make a fuss of him because he's such a lovely dog, but they haven't been allowed to,' she said.

Set in 1930s New York, the show's hit songs include Tomorrow and It's the Hard-Knock Life. It features nearly 50 young performers with a further dozen working behind the scenes.

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Spunky redhead Annie tries to escape her orphanage and find her parents only to be caught and returned. But when billionaire Oliver Warbucks decides to invite an orphan home for Christmas, he chooses Annie.

Much skulduggery follows as false parents appear in a bid to claim a reward but Annie learns that her true mum and dad are dead and is adopted by Warbucks.

The show runs from March 14-17 at 7.30pm with an extra 2.30pm matinee on Saturday. For tickets ring 01263 733270.

Aylsham High School will be collecting honours for its last musical, Half a Sixpence, at a NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) ceremony next month.

The show programme has been judged as the best in the East of England. It was put together by Mrs Wiseman, with a cover design by Mrs Wiseman's daughter Lauren, 19, a former pupil.

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