Studley Operatic took to the stage last night for a delightful production of the classic tale of the young, feisty red-head, Annie. Packed with recognisable songs, this regularly performed tale is always a crowd pleaser and also allows groups to showcase their young talent.
Millie Stanway took on the title role (which is alternated with Caitlin Speirs) and it was clear that she had a raw talent - understandably nervous at the start, she grew into the character and it was utterly endearing. The rest of the principle roles were well cast, with some of the richest and sumptuous vocals of the night coming from Richard Smith as Oliver Warbucks. His rendition of NYC was faultless. There was good support from Vicky Khawaja as Grace, Hugh Duck as Drake and Ian Thompson as Franklin D. Roosevelt, with a particular highlight being the glorious harmonies in Tomorrow within the Presidential Cabinet.
However, some of the most impressive performances of the night came from the trio of Michael Bentley, Jonathan Boxall-Southall and Cassie Rivett as Miss Hannigan, Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis, respectively. They brought the slimy trio to life with excellent comic timing and great singing.
Bentley's Hannigan was sheer perfection. To take on such an iconic female character, he was following in the footsteps of Paul O'Grady and Craig Revel-Horwood, and he more than did the role justice. It was a well balanced performance, with a super rendition of Little Girls. The audience clearly loved it.
Boxall-Southall and Rivett also garnered many a laugh through the night and when they joined forces with Bentley, Easy Street made for the musical highlight of the evening.
Aside from some clunky scene changes, which I'm sure will improve during the run, Studley Operatic have worked exceedingly hard to bring this classic to life. Under the direction of Kevin Hirons and Alison Hirons, with musical direction from Norma Kift, they have created an honest and charming production of this iconic story.
Well done to all involved.
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