Review: Annie – Felixstowe Musical Theatre - Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe

Big cast musicals are what suit the space at the Spa best – and there doesn’t come a much bigger one than this, based on the American 30s cartoon Little Orphan Annie.

It’s a chance to fill the stage with adorable kids as well as plenty of adult chorus; and in this FMT, with director Michael Crane, came right up to the mark.In a bold, colourful, well choreographed production this whole company was a delight to watch.

The story starts in a New York orphanage with a whole bunch of cute little girls whose opening number, It’s a hard knock life, set the standard for the rest of the evening.

Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage, is a beautiful part - in a way she is a softer, drunker, more comic version of Cruella de Ville and this was skilfully portrayed by a very confident Jacki Williamson.

The show hangs on having a strong young actress for the central lead and in this Aimee Butcher excelled – perfect to look at with a lovely voice and fantastic stage presence this was a performance to savour.

I always imagine Daddy Warbucks as a larger than life figure; Chris Branch played him much more low key but was strong enough in the role, if a bit lacking in physical stage presence.

Sally Branch as Grace the secretary was a good support and David Crane and Lottie Hicks a nice double act as Rooster and his gal.

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The rest of the cast did a superb job filling in a multitude of character and chorus parts with good voices and well directed chorus numbers. Especially noteworthy was Martyn Chenery in the role of President Roosevelt.

The pace moved on with the story – and there were some nice moments – especially in the orphanage - as well as big climax numbers.

It was good to hear a live talented orchestra accompanying the show, musical director Natasha Free did a superb job keeping it all together and well done to the stage crew – the scene changes were handled very slickly with nice backdrops and well chosen props.

Although some might say you can’t go wrong with a show involving lots of delightful children and a cute dog – there is a lot of difference between a good show and a great one. This was a joy throughout and FMT deserve to be congratulated.