ONE of musical theatre's greatest villain's – Annie's child-hating orphanage matron Miss Hanningan – has come good with some tips for Inverness company Starlight Musical Theatre's own production this summer.
Leading Scottish actress and singer Elaine C. Smith, perhaps best known throughout the UK as Rab C. Nesbitt's long-suffering wife Mary Doll, is playing Miss Hannigan in the Scottish dates of the show's current professional tour.
She has now passed on her advice and best wishes for the Highland amateur production thanks to her long-standing friendship with Starlight co-executive Peter Kelly.
They were both students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now Glasgow's Royal Conservatoire, where Smith studied drama and Kelly studied singing.
"I used to play about on the piano at lunchtime, and Elaine and Sheena Easton popped in regularly for a sing-song," Kelly recalled.
"Both of them had good voices, but Elaine was much the better. It ended up being a regular tryst, and we've remained friends over the years."
Kelly and fellow Starlight producer Donnie Matheson met up with Smith after watching her performance at the Kings Theatre, Glasgow.
"She's good at everything she does, and a nice person to boot – a true pro," Kelly stated.
"She wished us well in our production, with a word of caution: 'You'll need one tough Annie, as she has a lot to do!'"
In fact Starlight are having two Annies in Erin Moran, who will play three performances, and Tyra McGloughlan, who will perform in the other two.
"Starlight's remit is to try and encourage the talent of tomorrow – and this will also preserve the stamina for the performances," Matheson explained.
The other leading players are Garry Black, returning this year after playing Fagin in last year's Oliver! as Daddy Warbucks, Fiona Chapman as Miss Hannigan, Liam MacAskill as Rooster Hannigan, Alison Ozog as Grace Farrell, Molly MacKay as Lily St. Regis, and well-known local radio personality, MFR DJ Ginno Conti, as Bert Healy.
"It's already shaping up to be a great show," Matheson said.
"We have a brilliant cast of orphans, supporting leads, and a terrific ensemble – and we mustn't forget the four-legged other star of the show, Chloe the dog, who plays Sandy."
The show is once again being directed for Starlight by Roma MacAskill, with musical direction in the hands of Fiona Stuart and choreography by Nicola Gray.
* Starlight Musical Theatre will present Annie: The Musical at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, from Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 August 2016.