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"Annie" 8th - 10th April 2024

Behold, an update of my fabulous musical life...

Annie cygnets Macclesfield musical theatre society group youth

This past week, I was invited back by Kalini Kent of CYGNETS to...CYGNETS!...for their Springtime workshop. This year, it was a small production of 'Annie'.

I have been working towards CYGNETS' production of 'Beauty and the Beast' - to be put on at Kings School in Macclesfield later this year, and on the back of that I was invited back by Kalini to team up with her as director (and, basically, everything else) and the same choreographer - Hannah Davies - to pull together a small showcase as musical director.

CYGNETS is a not for profit group that stands for 'Cheshire Youth Group for New and Emerging Talent on Stage'. I suppose the rest will naturally fall into place: it focuses on performing arts (especially musical ones, in my experience!) for children between the ages of 7 - 18, (theoretically, though most anybody with the will to even just try is welcome!).

Throughout the year, they put on a number of workshops and full day courses, but having never done one prior I can only speak for what I now recognise to be their Springtime workshop. This is a three full day course (9 - 5), the third day of which extends later with two performances that last approximately one hour each - one at 5:00 and one at 7:00. For these performances, parents are invited to watch for a small ticket price (or free for under 5's!) and there is a bar set up with both soft and alcoholic drinks, as well as snacks.

Everything takes place at the group's rehearsal space in Macclesfield which has, over the past year, been painstakingly set up to accommodate such a thing as this; an electric piano and speaker has been invested in, a sound system had been moved in just in time for this show which I believe will now live there (though not necessarily set up) and there is both a floor level and raised performance area as well as permanent raked seating. One of the back rooms has an entrance on either end of the long space which even serves perfectly as a backstage area!

For those unfamiliar with 'Annie', you may be familiar with the titles of some or all of the following songs that were performed in some capacity:

  • Maybe

  • It's the Hard Knock Life

  • Tomorrow

  • Little Girls

  • You Won't Be an Orphan for Long

  • You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

  • I Don't Need Anything But You

..and of course, it was my job to ensure that the children all knew their parts.

One thing that is very good about this - and I believe all of CYGNETS' - workshop(s) is the rotation of roles throughout. Very cleverly done to ensure that;

  • nobody has too much to learn, given that it is a three day course, but more importantly;

  • everybody gets an opportunity at doing something that they want to do.

Therefore, there were several Annies, and given that there were about four reprises of 'Maybe' and a couple of reprises of 'Tomorrow', it gave plenty of girls the opportunity to sing a solo. No other part was left to just one individual either!

Given that this was not only a three day workshop but also a youth production, there were heavy cuts throughout. Repetition was generally ignored in the songs - once through was fine for the likes of 'Tomorrow' and if any solo was taken in, for example, 'You're Never Fully Dressed...", then it was only for the sake of two short verses before the full chorus joined in to support for the rest of the song (which, again, would not be much).

Whilst the script had the intention of a few other scenes and a few songs that were cut, I also still honoured some instrumental transitional / underscoring of the songs 'I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here', 'N.Y.C', 'Easy Streets' and 'Annie'.

After three very long days (especially Wednesday 10th - the third day - the inevitable two runs and two performances day!), it proved a success. The parents were raving about it - many staying for both performances - and the young cast, who were already doing a great job, massively upped their game for both shows!

A huge well done to CYGNETS - in particular to Kalini Kent - for being able to pull a performance like this together in just three days.

If you are in the Macclesfield area and have or know of a child who you think might benefit from the organisation, do contact Kalini or CYGNETS via the website.


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