Ulverston Amateur Operatic Society’s new star Natalie Heal was expected to win hearts in October 1993 as Annie opened at the town’s Coronation Hall.
Under the headline ‘An orphan you can’t refuse’, The Mail wrote that it would be the first big show for 11-year-old Natalie, who won the role in June when 40 hopefuls auditioned.
In October, a pupil at Ulverston Victoria Secondary School, Natalie was a member of the Sir John Barrow School’s drama club and had appeared in the school’s Christmas plays.
“She’s been great,” show director Barbara Springthorpe said.
“It was hilarious Monday night when she put on Annie’s wig for the first time.
She has straight hair and the wig is red and curly. The children playing the other orphans were hysterical.
Barbara said the rehearsals went really well and the girls playing the orphans were brilliant.
“They’re like a pop bottle,” she said. “They fizz all the time, but as soon as I say quiet, they’re quiet.
“They are brilliant. I worked with them separately from the rest of the cast for two and a half months and they know precisely what they are doing.
“I did the choreography and whatever I told them to do, they did. They know every step and where every foot should be. I am very happy.”
Also in the cast were Russell Palmer as Warbucks, Lindsay Jackson as Grace Farrell, Elaine Parkinson as Miss Hannigan, Steve Low as Rooster, Sue Little as Lily, Katherine Smith as Mollie, Bill Springthorpe as President Roosevelt, Andrew Bond as Bill Healy and Fiona Pate and Tracey Jackson as the other two Boylan sisters.
The opening night show was in aid of St Mary’s Hospice.
The original Broadway production of Anne opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, winning seven Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. Among his most popular musical numbers are tomorrow and It’s hard life.