A Christchurch schoolgirl has landed the coveted title role in the award-winning Highcliffe Charity Players’ next musical – the legendary Broadway and West End smash hit, Annie. 13-year-old Lucy-May Alner, a pupil at Twynham School, will play the child lead when the show opens at the Regent Centre, Christchurch on 28 May.
Based on a popular American comic strip, Annie tells the heart-warming, rags-to-riches story of a little orphan girl, and her dog, Sandy.
Lucy-May was chosen from 53 hopefuls aged between 8 and 13, who competed for this challenging role over a six-week series of demanding ‘Annie’ Audition Workshops with the show’s Production Team in Highcliffe.
Says Lucy-May, who lives in Christchurch: “It’s a dream come true! I have always wanted to play Annie – I first saw the film when I was six and watched the DVD so much. I loved the music immediately and soon knew all the words. I especially liked Sandy the dog. I feel so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity – I can’t wait to get up on stage to play Annie.”
Lucy-May has been performing since the age of eight and has appeared locally in Oklahoma! (Pavilion, Bournemouth) Whistle Down the Wind (Regent Centre) and Bugsy Malone (The Mayflower, Southampton). A member of the Big Little Theatre School for the past two years, she is also an accomplished ballroom and Latin dancer and intends to take her GCSEs in both dance and drama. Her ambition is to become a professional actress or choreographer. This is her debut with Charity Players.
Says Kate Claxton, the show’s Director: “I have been delighted and astonished by the amount of talent the girls have shown throughout the workshops – they have all worked so hard. However, Lucy-May stood out because of her incredible ability to perform with maturity and confidence in all of the disciplines. She has a wonderful stage presence and I was drawn to her lovely smile, impeccable dance skills and her focus in the workshops and in the auditions. I am so excited to be working with her.
“I have also selected an understudy – 10-year-old Rachel Howarth (from Bransgore) who will have her own chance of stardom when she takes on the role of Annie for one performance only on the Saturday 31 May matinee. For the rest of the run she will play ‘July’ – one of the orphans. Rachel, too, has an extraordinary confidence in her performance; at her tender age she has a remarkable ability to engage an audience. She also has a singing voice that will blow your socks off!
“It’s been an extremely difficult task because I could only choose 25 out of the 53 hopefuls from our workshops to perform the young principal roles and supporting orphans for the show. Rehearsals for the youngsters begin on 8 March and I’m so looking forward to it.”
Says HCP chairman Georgina Smith: “With a cast that features a number of talented children plus a cute dog, and a score that includes such memorable hits as ‘Tomorrow’, it’s little wonder that Annie has proved such an enduring family favourite. We hope that even those youngsters who have not been successful this time, will come back to future HCP Workshops. We see them as a training ground to develop future Charity Players, thus ensuring the company’s continued growth and success.”
Annie runs at the Regent Centre for five performances from 28-31 May 2014 (half term week). ‘Early Bird’ Tickets (£12.50, paid for by 31 March) are already on sale at the Regent Centre Box Office (01202 499199) and online: www.regentcentre.co.uk