Girls land roles in million dollar hit

The orphans in 'Annie'
The orphans in 'Annie'

HUNDREDS of young hopefuls auditioned for roles in a Christmas production of ‘Annie’ - and two of them, Brighouse performers Olivia Midgley and Jody Townend, are now taking a bow and enjoying the applause on the professional stage.

The girls have landed roles as orphans in the musical ‘Annie’, starring Duncan Preston as billionaire Daddy Warbucks, at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, and are loving every minute of it.

Thirteen-year-old Olivia, of Rastrick, is a student at Stage 84 School of Performing Arts in Bradford, and 11-year-old Jody, of Huddersfield, performs with Exit 25 drama school in Brighouse.

They have joined 32 other young girls from all over West Yorkshire who are playing Miss Hannigan’s orphans - in two teams - until mid-January.

It’s a great opportunity for them to be part of one of West Yorkshire’s top Christmas shows - and one which is already packing them in at the 750-seat Quarry Theatre. But if the girls have any nerves, they certainly don’t let them show.

Olivia, who was in ‘Annie’ with Su Pollard in Bradford last year, is already a veteran of the show. “I’m really enjoying it. There’s a special atmosphere doing a show at Christmas and we all get on really well,” said Olivia, a pupil at All Saints RC High School, Bradley.

“We started rehearsing in October and it’s been been great fun although I’ve already broken the bed, sewing machine and a tray! My family have already been to see the show.”

Last year Olivia was in the cast for a professional tour of ‘The Sound of Music’, appearing as Louisa, the third Von Trapp child. In 2008 the former pupil at St Joseph’s Junior School, Brighouse, took part in Sky One’s TV quiz show ‘Are You Smarter than a Ten-Year-Old?’

Jody has been a member of Exit 25, which holds classes at Brighouse Assembly rooms, for six years and has been singing and dancing since she was five.

“I’ll be working over Christmas but I don’t mind because we’re having such a good time. Duncan Preston is really funny and makes us all laugh. It’s a bit nervewracking while we’re waiting to go on but once we get on the stage, it’s a great feeling.”

The girls were cast when director Nikolai Foster put out a call for open auditions in the summer. Four hundred hopefuls, all keen to have roles in the iconic show, responded.

It is the first new production of the Broadway musical for a decade. The family show features the well-known songs ‘Hard Knock Life’, ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Easy Street’. Also in the cast are Verity Rushworth, EastEnders’ actress Emma Barton and Sarah Ingram as Miss Hannigan.

l ‘Annie’ runs until January 21. Ticket information is available on 0113 213 7700.