Annie and the orphans take to the stage in West Sussex!

The orphans
The orphans

Andrea White, principal of Razzamataz Theatre Schools Bognor Regis, directs Stage Door Theatre Company for the first time as they take to the stage with the celebrated musical Annie.

Performances will be at Littlehampton’s Windmill Entertainment Centre from November 30 to December 3.

The company has proved a natural home for Andrea: “I arrived in Littlehampton two years ago and went to Stage Door Theatre Company to try to meet people, and they welcomed me with open arms. They are lovely. I literally didn’t know anyone in Littlehampton.

“I did a couple of productions with them, but this is the first time I have directed with the company. I did Wyrd Sisters with them and then The Final Test, which was funny but poignant. They said they would like to put on Annie and they asked me if I would like to direct. I love working with children, and I love directing. I love performing, but I also love putting the show together, and this gives me a chance to direct and to choreograph.”

Part of the appeal of the show is that it is so well known: “People do like to see something they know. I think people can be a bit reluctant to see something they are unfamiliar with.”

But working with children is also a major part of the fun as far as Andrea is concerned: “My youngest orphan is six, and I have got a good age range, including some young adults aged 16-19. It is good to have them coming along. It is a cast of 26 plus a dog!”

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, she finds her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…

With its award-winning book and score, the show includes the songs Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow.

Rehearsals for adults and children were separate to begin with, Andrea says: “But I do try to speak to everybody the same.

“The children are quicker to pick up enthusiasm and direction. The adults are working or they have got college, and they don’t come to rehearsals with quite so much energy, but putting the children and the adults together will be great. When you have got the children there, their enthusiasm is infectious.

“I trained as a dancer and actress originally, but I always knew that I wanted to choreograph and be the other side. When I ran my own school in Devon, which I did for 25 years, we did two productions a year. I just love having a picture in my mind’s eye and then seeing it on stage.

“At Stage Door I knew a lot of people, but I didn’t know what they were like as performers, so it has been great to realise that they can do more or see them realise they can do things in different ways.

“It is a living thing, a production, and even when it goes on stage, it is still living and can change, especially when you have got good actors who can react to what is going on with the audience. Most actors are lifted by having an audience in front of them.”

Tickets are £12 each or £11 for concessions.

Tickets can be bought from the Stage Door box office on 01903 856801 or by emailing tickets@stage-door.org.uk.

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