REVIEW: Tear jerker Annie never ceases to move audiences

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THAT popular orphan, Annie has arrived at the Opera House, direct from the West End.

Anita Dobson as Miss Hannigan. Picture: Paul Coltas

The orphan who comes out smiling whatever happens is played on press night by Taziva-Faye Katsande whilst her tormentor, the role of the evil Miss Hannigan, goes to Anita Dobson.

Dobson gets to the heart ­— or lack of it — of her gin-swilling character.

She works solely for the money and doesn’t give a hoot for her charges. With necessary exaggeration she brings out the emptiness of a woman who neither gives nor receives love.

The orphans are robust about their treatment. Led by Annie they treat Miss Hannigan with disdain even when told to say: “We Love you Miss Hannigan”.

The young dancers (and the older ones, too) perform with precision which make difficult moves look easy. Their singing is equally disciplined.

The audience cheers when Annie goes from rags to riches to eventually be adopted by billionaire Oliver Warbucks who tries, unsuccessfully, to help her find her parents.

Alex Bourne plays well the kind-hearted millionaire who takes a shine to his PA, Grace Farrell, a charming Carolyn Maitland.

Another adorable character is Sandy, Annie’s dog. The labradoodle appears strictly on cue wagging her tail.

When Taziva-Faye sings, she grasps the feeling of each line. The other little orphans make an ideal chorus singing and dancing in perfect timing and harmony.

The 10-strong orchestra led by Daniel Griffin makes the perfect background to numbers such as Tomorrow.

The design is a massive jig saw reflecting Annie’s attempt to put together the pieces in her life.

This tear jerker never ceases to move audiences and gets a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

• Annie is at the Manchester Opera House until Saturday. For tickets contact

• Star rating: * * * *.

Carolyn Maitland