Never work with children or animals. That’s the old actors’ saying, isn’t it? West End theatre regular Alex Bourne does both in hit family musical Annie, which features child performers and an adorable dog. The former We Will Rock You star plays Daddy Warbucks in the much-loved show, which returns to the London stage at the Piccadilly Theatre.
In this production, comedian Miranda Hart plays the – ironically – heartless orphanage owner, Miss Hannigan, who tries to stop the title character finding happiness. Bourne gets to provide the yin to her yang as the wealthy businessman who makes it his mission to help the orphan.
As Bourne brings the show to the capital, we ask him about the enduring appeal of Annie, his first theatre experiences and the tips he’d give young performers:
How would you describe Annie?
One of the best family shows ever written. Hit song after hit song and an inspiring story.
Why did you want to be part of this production?
I loved being a part of the UK tour of Annie, so to now be part of the West End production is a dream.
How would you describe your character?
The most successful businessman in the world, who has forgotten what life and love is all about.
Do you think there is an audience that would particularly enjoy this show?
This show is for all ages and wonderful for families. But Annie is for anyone wanting a joyous, inspirational night out with some of the best songs ever written.
Why do you think Annie has stood the test of time as a musical?
The writing. This show has three of the best musical theatre songs in the first 30 minutes. It’s timeless.
What do you think is different about this new version of Annie?
We are trying to tell the story simply and truthfully. With an exciting new design and innovative choreography.
What was your first experience of theatre?
I would say watching panto as a kid. Then I saw Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the ’70s and I was hooked.
Why is live performance so special?
The immediate response from the audience.
Apart from the Piccadilly Theatre, what’s your favourite London theatre?
The Dominion, where I have spent nearly eight years of my life, performing in Beauty And The Beast and We Will Rock You. Amazing memories.
What advice would you give aspiring performers?
Be nice… and don’t be late.
What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre?
Check out TKTS Leicester Square and hopefully get yourself a bargain!