Annie takes to the stage at South Hill ParkBy Caroline Cook
June 26, 2012
A Bracknell stage school is hoping the sun will come out for its latest show. Caroline Cook caught up with the producer:
Children from stage schools are often thought to be over-loud, over-confident and a little bit bratty.
But the group of six-to-16-year-olds from the Royal Berkshire Academy of Performing Arts (RBAPA) who will be treading the boards at South Hill Park this week are nothing of the sort.
While many of the young performers have auditioned for or starred in West End productions, the RBAPA kids keep their feet firmly on the ground.
“They start young and have to really, really work,” says show producer Dorinda Duncan.
“There’s no room for people who don’t really want to do it.”
While the academy has a strong worth ethic, the school aims to put on fun and professional shows, hoping to give its young actors their first experience of the stage.
“It’s not glamorous, it’s long, hard work,” says Dorinda.
“It’s quite a challenge, but they are the hardest-working bunch of kids.
“It makes it all worthwhile when they work so hard.”
The school puts on between two and three shows a year, with their latest production Annie arriving at South Hill Park next week.
The big-hearted musical tells the story of New York orphan Annie, who decides to escape the orphanage and find her parents.
When she is caught and brought back by a policeman, the firey-haired youngster finds herself taken to the mansion of billionaire Oliver Warbucks by chance.
While the billionaire is reluctant to have Annie in his home at first, he warms to the happy-go-lucky youngster and vows to help her find her parents.
But, with a pair of criminals lurking in the wings and the whole of New York stretching out in front of them, the search is far from easy.
The title role is shared by young actresses Gaby Foulsham from Slough, Natalie Cox from Bracknell, and Crowthorne Annie Maggie Knox.
“Annie was chosen because there are so many parts for children,” explains Dorinda. “For this cast the oldest is 16 and they do all the adult roles.
“All of the cast develop their natural talent in a disciplined environment and take these skills forward to enhance their lives.
It’s much more than just a show.”
The cast also includes Barney the dog, who stars as Annie’s beloved pet pooch Sandy and who is owned by cast members Charlie, Nicole and Abi Taylor.
Having recently auditioned for the stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gaby, who is the youngest Annie at just 10, is looking forward to taking the title role in the show next week.
The other Annies have also been busy learning their lines and working on classic songs like Tomorrow and Hard Knock Life.
And, with their performing CVs already notching up lead theatre roles and countless cast numbers, you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be the last you hear of these Annies.
Annie is at South Hill Park in Ringmead from Wednesday, June 27, to Saturday, June 30.
To book visit www.southhillpark.org.uk or call (01344) 484 123.
RBAPA will also be performing a flashmob acting experience as part of the Little Festival of Everything at South Hill Park from Sunday, July 1, to Saturday, July 7.