Date 24th March 2017
Society York Musical Theatre Company
Venue Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York
Type of Production Musical
Director Paul Laidlaw
Musical Director Paul Laidlaw
Choreographer Nic Jenkins


Author: Terry Harrison

At a time when images of a US tycoon turned President and scenes of his signing his executive orders at the White House are seldom off our TV screens, the prospect of a visit to a show with similar characters including a scene in that very building was perhaps rather less attractive than is sometimes the case. We might have preferred to escape to the plains of Oklahoma or even to Dickensian London but, in the end, this heart-warming story serves to re-assure us that some tycoons are big hearted enough to adopt an orphan, whilst a serving President is not too proud to take her advice.

The key to any production of this show is, of course, the young lady chosen for the title role and here the Company was well served by Kaia Stainton who showed great confidence throughout. This was never more so than when she found herself partnered with a somewhat unruly “Sandy”, played by Barney, during her big song (“Tomorrow”) and in the following scene when the dog is supposed to answer her call in order to prove their relationship. Showing great composure when he failed to do so, Kaia came up with a splendid ad lib to fit the occasion.  Whilst there were two teams of orphans, Kaia appeared at every performance, an example of her stamina on top of everything else.   

There were good performances from some of the stalwarts of this Company, Richard Bainbridge as an avuncular Warbucks, Toni Feetenby as his kindly P.A.,Grace, Matthew Ainsworth as the scheming Rooster and Anna Mitchelson as his gum-chewing girl-friend, Lily. Another York favourite, Kathryn Addison as Miss Hannigan, also provided excellent support, relishing perhaps an unfamiliar role as a somewhat less likeable character, whilst Sam Rippon, playing a variety of roles made a particularly excellent job of the radio announcer, Bert Healy. An 8 piece orchestra provided good support and movement on stage was always of the usual high standard. I particularly liked this version of “Hard-knock Life” in which we had less of the usual routine with clanging buckets and instead a couple of orphans dressed as human floor mops as they were pushed along the floor.

President Roosevelt, sympathetically played here by Larry Gibson, has a line: “Annie is the sort of person every President should have around him”. On the day when the current incumbent faced the rejection of his healthcare plan, he for one would certainly have welcomed her support.  As it was, we were all delighted to have her company for the evening.