Annie is one of those shows we’ve all seen again and again, but this production is the real deal.
You’ll no doubt know every word to every song and probably even starred in this show yourself during your primary school days, so you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen it all before.
But watching Annie at the Sunderland Empire last night was like seeing it for the first time.
It’s the famous story of little orphan girl Annie (Anya Evans) searching for her parents while fighting hard to keep her positive attitude under the tyrannical reign of Miss Hannigan (Lesley Joseph).
She’s chosen by secretary Grace Farrell (Holly Dale Spencer) to spend the Christmas holidays at the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Alex Bourne), who decides he wants to adopt the youngster, but she’s central to a mischievous plot by Hannigan’s crook brother Rooster (Jonny Fines) and his girlfriend Lily (Djalenga Scott).
Evans may only be 12-years-old, but the has the stage presence and capability of someone twice her age. The youngster was fantastic in the title role and belted out famous songs like Maybe, Tomorrow and Hard Knock Life with ease and confidence.
Joseph was just as brilliant as Miss Hannigan. She embodied the gruesome role of the drunken orphanage head and her rendition of Little Girls was fantastic.
It’s a real family show and went down a storm with people of all ages in the audience.
The young girls playing the orphans gave tremendous performances all round. Little Andie Jordan was cute as a button as Molly and Anna O’Hare was suitably feisty as Pepper.
The show also had a four-legged star in the shape of Amber, who played Annie’s sidekick Sandy. The labradoodle was adorable and made everyone ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ as she did tricks and ran across the stage.
People in the crowd sang along to famous tracks I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile as they were caught up in the infectious mood that filled the theatre.
We were all rooting for lovable Annie to have her happy ever after.
The kids really are the stars of this show, and the orphans - also made up of Megan Haynes, Matilda Hopkins, Holly Parsons and Sarah Huttlestone - did a wonderful job.
If you’re stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, this show is sure to give you a smile from ear to ear.
It’s the perfect Easter holiday treat for the little ones.
Annie runs at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday, April 2. Click here to book tickets.