CAROLINE CULOT Norwich Theatre Royal


For a 12-year-old taking the starring role in a big musical on its first night, it doesn't come much more nerve-racking than having to wrestle on stage with a dog with a mind of its own.

But that is exactly what Stacey Hunt playing Annie had to deal with last night as Danny the dog, playing Sandy (which, let's face it, must have left it confused), did his very best to put off the young star at just about every moment.

But despite Danny not wanting to sit down for the much-awaited rendition of Tomorrow at the start or to go on the stairs for the reprise at the end, Stacey proved herself a real star by carrying on regardless.

In fact the children in this much-loved musical definitely stole the show last night. Stacey, who is touring with the show, made a loveable little orphan Annie with great expression and range in her voice.

And, wow, the nine Norfolk girls from the United School of Dance and Performing Arts, playing the other orphans, really showed everyone just what they could do with gusto. From the opening with the gutsy It's a Hard Knock Life to another favourite, You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, these youngsters sang their hearts out, gave us some great little dance routines and made us fall in love with them, especially the cute Molly (Emma Hume.)

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So what with Annie, Danny/Sandy the dog and nine loveable “orphans”, it was going to be difficult for any of the grown-ups to shine.

Su Pollard as the drunken Miss Hannigan did have a good try, though, and proved herself to be a strong singer, and James Smillie brought emotion to the role of Daddy Warbucks.

There were a few technical problems with some of the microphones but, apart from that, the sun did come out for this performance.

As for Danny the dog – well tomorrow is another day…

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