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Newbury YoungStars - Annie Jnr

4th to 6th March 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Little company of stars packs a big punch with Annie

Newbury YoungStars: Annie Jnr, at Arlington Arts, from Thursday, March 4 to Saturday, March 6

Annie Jr is the version of the show Little Orphan Annie for young performers, staged here by the junior branch of Newbury Operatic Society, the YoungStars.

From the opening scene outside the Municipal Orphanage in New York City, the young performers gave a really impressive display of acting, singing and dancing that would have been quite something from actors of any age.

Emily Sinfield was a believable orphan throughout the performance, both in her acting and singing, but perhaps most impressive of all was her US accent which almost had me believing she was a native. All the accents were well-handled by the cast and, as no specific voice-coach was listed on the programme, it must have been down to the director and the hard work of the entire cast. Not an easy thing to do, even for professional actors, so full marks all round for the accents.

As to the movement, positioning on stage throughout and the groupings of characters in each scene, all was handled with great attention to detail and it would have been an eagle eye that spotted a wrong move during the entire performance. To be sure, there was the occasional slow pick-up of a cue and momentary loss of timing owing to uncertainty over who was due to deliver the next line, but these are all in the nature of stage performance generally and the overall impression of this production was that it was slick, controlled, animated and maintained a good strong pace from beginning to end.

Jacqui Trumper's choreography deserves special mention, as does the overall direction by Mike Scott-Cound. Musical director Michael Evans played the score, with John Barham on bass and Neil Streeter providing percussion, and they did very well, following the various young singers and carefully shading down the volume levels for the very smallest, youngest vocalists.

Leading characters were well handled, by Lucy Kay as Miss Hanigan, an enviable 'baddie' part that most actors love to get their teeth into, and Ben Perks as Oliver Warbucks. All the cast, in fact - too many to list individually - gave good account of themselves.

The scenery was impressive, designed by Nick Dann to move and turn around swiftly with every scene.

Charles Strouse's music score is not the most memorable, but the YoungStars did it much more than justice.