Warning: Tomorrow will be stuck in your head

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 16:39 23/05/2014
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff.co.nz

The cast of Annie perform a special preview ahead of tonight's opening night.

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Rooster Hannigan is evil, but MiG Ayesa is wickedly irresistible as he steals across the stage.

"He's pure superstar" Annie producer James Cundall says. "One of the biggest talents in the show."

There's no shortage of talent in Annie, the acclaimed UK production which kicks off its New Zealand tour at Wellingtob's St James theatre tonight.

From its Broadway beginnings to the classic film musical, the rags-to-riches story of plucky young Annie's journey from a hard-knocks New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks is a tale that has been told all over the world for decades.

Having finished a successful tour of Britain, this 32-strong cast is in Wellington until June 8 and in Auckland from June 13 until July 6.

Among a host of familiar faces from British TV and stage, including Su Pollard (Miss Hannigan), David McAlister (Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks), and Frazer Hines (Franklin D. Roosevelt), are three young Kiwi girls who share the role of the red-headed orphan.

Zoe Fifield, 13, Ilena Shadbolt, 12, and Amelia Walshe, 11, were cast from more than 600 who auditioned nationwide. Despite their ages, the girls are experienced performers, having been dancing, singing, and acting for most of their lives.

They're lively performers off stage, too; happily chatting with journalists and posing for photographs before the big night.

Amelia is on first. "I'm really nervous," she says. "But that's good... I think!".

The girls will rotate the role each night, to keep the show fresh.

Ilena says the cast has been rehearsing for 10 hours a day leading up to the performance. "We're all quite different Annies, so it will be different for the audience each night."

Cundall describes the show as a "transgenerational cohort" -- an event for all members of the family.

"It's fun, there's something about watching a live show -- uniquely put on for you, it's different every time -- and about having that shared experience.

"Plus, it's got some great songs. Tomorrow, that'll stay in your head all day."

You can bet your bottom dollar, it will. 

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