by John Manning
For any performer the thought of being on stage for much of a two hour show is a daunting prospect but 11 year old Connie Jenkins-Greig took it in her stride when she stepped into the spotlight at Harpenden Public Halls on Monday night.
For Connie was very much the star of the Harpenden Light Operatic Society's opening night of the ever-popular musical 'Annie'.
Backing both girls were two teams of youngsters all playing the parts of children in a New York orphanage in 1933.
Unfortunately, I could only see Monday's first night but the children in general and Connie in particular, were splendid, not just enthusiastic but well drilled and thoroughly entertaining.
From the moment Connie stepped onto the stage there was not a trace of nerves and as the evening progressed she appeared to grow into her part to the delight of the audience.
Having seen Gracie in the 2013 production when she delighted the audience as the youngest of the von Trapp children, I feel sure her performance will be of the same high standard.
The storyline, although complicated by some theatrical twists, is basically that of an orphan who finds happiness thanks to the generosity of a new found friend.
Based on the strip cartoon Little Orphan Annie and originally produced on Broadway in 1977, Annie is packed with good music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.
For Harpenden Public Hall's stage the cast is a little on the large side involving more than 50 people, including children and chorus, but even so there was plenty of room for good singing and dancing as well as excellent characterisation.
Claire Millins, a regular with the Harpenden society, gave a standout performance as Miss Hannigan, the cantankerous director of the orphanage, and Richard Alexander as the philanthropic Oliver Warbucks demonstrated not only good acting ability but also a very pleasing tenor voice.
Other notable performances were Fleur Baikie as Grace Farrell, Warbuck's assistant, Seb Kainth as the conman Rooster and Georgina Dalton as his sidekick Lily, as well as Brian Woods as Drake, Warbuck's butler.
The pit orchestra under Musical Director Graham Thomson was top class, although at times, because of the quality of the sound system at the Public Hall, it drowned the on-stage action.
The excellent direction and choreography was in the hands of Lucy O'Hare who last directed a show for the society in 2011.