The sun will come out tomorrow….will it really? If it doesn’t come out in the sky, it will come out in the theatre for the musical adaptation of Annie, for sure.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Annie, it is the rags to riches and back again tale of tenacious songbird Annie - Taziva Faye Katsande, as she navigates her way through the hard knock life of being an orphan in the 1930’s.
A gang of grubby girls open the show, on the rickety iron beds of the run down orphanage. Every last move of the little ladies were perfectly in sync, from fluffing the pillows, hiding in the laundry bin, to jumping when Miss Hannigan storms in, was executed so well. Each child sang so powerfully and danced so perfectly coordinated to each other and the band, you’d be forgiven for forgetting they’re just small children. Their threadbare outfits and tattered hair were truly reminiscent of Duffy, Mollie, Pepper and the other orphans from the movie. Katsande was by far and away the standout star of the show, her beautiful singing created such an atmosphere in the theatre it really was captivating to hear, the way in which she was able to maintain her cheeky American accent certainly didn’t go unnoticed either.
Craig Revel Horwood was a hoot as the flirtatious alcoholic villain Miss Hannigan, who concocts a plan to extort money from Daddy Warbucks - Alex Bourne, to “reunite” Annie, with her “birth parents”. Horwood danced and sang brilliantly, he didn’t even take a wobble in Miss Hannigans tacky heels, even when she was falling around drunk. You will have to see the show to find out if Horwood, on stage brother, the plucky Rooster - Richard Meek, and girlfriend Lily St Regis - Jenny Gayner, find their one way ticket to easy street or not. Gayner could have been mistaken for Berndatte Peters (Lily in the original film), as she completely depicted the amorous, slender and “sexy” scoundrel we know and don’t love from the 80’s musical. I truly felt that all of the actors on stage, brilliantly and accurately portrayed the characters from the movie, sometimes musical adaptations for theatre can change too much of the essence of a classic film, but for this it was as though the whole show was really just the movie picked up and put on stage. However, one part of the story was missing, this is my only critique of the show, I did quite miss the dramatic kidnap and escape scenes that lead us to seeing Daddy Warbucks, and the graceful, elegant and maternal Grace - Carolyn Maitland rescue little orphan Annie. I thought it was unusual to omit, what to me, is quite a relevant part of the story.
The static set had me confused at the beginning, what is the relevance of those hanging shapes? I can assure you, the pieces of the puzzle come to light eventually during the show - literally. The entire set was a very accurate representation of 1930’s attire, with Miss Hannigans ragged rickety fridge included. The scenes transitioned seamlessly between the orphanage, Daddy Warbucks palatial home, and the shabby streets of New York City, where Annie finds the (second best!) star of the show, her loving dog Sandy - Labradoodle Amber. I was a little bit worried that a real life dog on stage would be startled by the music, but the live band were not too dramatic or loud, their music was a jolly interpretation of 1930’s swing, Amber however didn’t seem to care, and wagged the whole way through by Katsabndes side.
Whether you’re an Annie superfan, or you don’t even know the story, the theatre depiction of this movie, is everything you could want and more, a quintessential, cheerful musical, the perfect stage show.
Reviewer: Amy Swagg
Reviewed: 24th May 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★