Guest Reviewer - Chris Brown
When I think of the musical Annie, my immediate thoughts are of an over saccharine sweet story-line and precocious stage school kids. This could not have been further from the truth with this honest and professional production from Sudbury Musical Society.
The orphans in this show are strong and gritty and their rendition of "It’s a Hard Knock Life" is passionate and determined which sets a good standard for the rest of the show. In particular, Ruby Harvey as Molly has great personality and is definitely one to watch for the future.
Annie is deftly played by Penny Bell delivering an outstanding performance in the title role. She has charm, stage presence and you cannot help but love her especially when paired with her canine companion Kenny as Sandy. The two of them on stage together is a match made in heaven.
The orphan’s nemesis Miss Hannigan, is ably played by Deborah Mansell. Deborah portrays the drunken tyrant perfectly staggering about the stage whilst desperately clutching her gin bottle and consequently gives us some great moments of humour throughout.
There are other strong performances including Chris Lowe as Warbucks, who has a strong baritone singing voice and great warmth in his relationship with Annie alongside Kate Davy as Grace, who not only looks stunning but sings beautifully and delivers a very believable portrayal.
There are also hugely enjoyable performances from Lewis Miller as shady conman Rooster Hannigan and Katie Hammond as his dumb blonde girlfriend Lily. I particularly liked Katie characterisation with the squeaky voice and outrageous costume and their trio with Deborah, "Easy Street" was one of the highlights of the show.
There were a number of other smaller parts which were ably played by Barry Bridges, Ashley Este and notably Roger Hearn as FDR.
It was clear that the cast were exceptionally well drilled under the guidance of Director Nikki Mundell-Poole whether it was as down and outs in Hooverville or servants in Warbucks Mansion and the singing under the skilled baton of Susannah Edom was top class.
The staging was a simple set, which allowed quick transformations keeping the action flowing throughout the show and the attention to detail both with the set, props and the wide variety of colourful costumes is always a hallmark of a Nikki Mundell-Poole show and it is clear she has pulled all the stops out to deliver a top quality production for this society.
If you can still get a ticket, you are in for a treat.
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