Alex has made Daddy Warbucks role his own
Off and on Alex Bourne has been playing the part of Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks in the musical Annie since 2011 which has meant for chunks of the past eight years he has been completely bald.
Based on the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie.set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, the show tells the story of a plucky red-haired moppet who endures a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.
Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks.
Craig Revel Horwood who stars as Miss Hannigan, the hard-drinking skinflint and villain of the piece, was with Alex Bourne in the original .production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011.
They were reunited in a new production, again directed by Nikolai Foster, which toured to Sheffield in 2016.
“Then there was the opportunity to go into the Piccadilly Theatre in London with Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan and then a couple of months in Toronto,” reports Bourne.
“I went off and did other things – including a tour of Mamma Mia and new musical Eugenius! at the Other Palace l - and then this tour came up.
“I love it so much, it’s one of my favourite jobs, so the opportunity to come back to it was too good to miss.”
With Daddy Warbucks’ famous bald pate, it’s been a case of hair today, gone tomorrow, for the actor.
“I am lucky. For a man of my age I have so much hair, like my father’s it’s as white as snow. I won’t go bald in a million years. When I got the role of Daddy Warbucks they said would you be prepared to shave your head. My wife (former S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens) wasn’t so happy. Then one night after a couple of glasses of wine she got the clippers out.
“I am used to it now. This time around I said to the producers I assume you’ll want me to shave my head and they said we have just had a meeting to discuss the option of having Warbucks with a full head of hair. I argued against. It’s based on the original cartoon which is known for a girl with ginger hair, a dog and a bald man. Give people what they want and besides I feel in the part shaving my head every day.”
Annie is a show which is especially popular with young children. He points out that there have been three movie versions – in 1982, 1999 and 2014 – giving different generations as different take on it.
“We are the production for this generation,” he says which is different from previous stage versions.
“All the dialogue and songs are the same but Nikolai has made it a bit more edgy. You think of Annie as this saccharine annoying kid who is always whining whereas we have tried to get away from that and make it truthful and realistic. All the others are a bit Broadway musical with a big staircase and a chimney and people standing around.”
No chance of that with Nick Winston’s choreography. “They have got me really waving my lallies at the end. The song, I Don’t Need Anything But You, I do with Annie is a full-on swing Charleston number.
“We have three sets of kids, six orphans and an Annie in each and they each perform for three nights and they are amazing and become your friends. They are all different and bring a different feel to the show. They keep it fresh and that’s why I enjoy it so much.”
Annie is at the Lyceum from Tuesday to Saturday, June 4-8.