‘ANNIE’ has been a part of many childhoods with the film version of the musical providing a sound-track to growing-up with songs such as ‘Hard Knock Life’ and ‘Tomorrow’, so there was always a chance the new stage version would not live up to expectations.
Happily, this is not the case with this sparkling, heart-warming production. The rags-to-riches story of little orphan Annie searching to find her parents is set against the back-drop of 1930s New York and the Wall Street crash and as such it’s done in the best American musical tradition – cheesy, patriotic and of course, good triumphing over evil.
From the moment the show opens in the dormitory at the New York City Orphanage and the seven little girls burst into song, you know you are in for a treat. These are sassy, streetwise orphans who look out for each other and dream of a better life.
The array of talent amongst the girls playing the orphans is both exceptional and inspiring – so well-drilled and confident, yet still allowing for a glimpse of their personalities.
We saw ‘Team Rockefeller’ who alternate with two other teams for each performance. Jodie Prenger’s comic portrayal of the drunken, bitter Orphanage Superintendent Miss Hannigan is superbly seedy, Alex Bourne as Daddy Warbucks gives a powerful, humbling performance going from buttoned-up billionaire to dancing with little Annie as she steals his heart, whilst Carolyn Maitland as Warbuck’s assistant Grace Farrell is just delightful. The whole cast sing and dance with a consummate skill and passion that leaves you with a smile on your face – apart from the tear-jerking sad/happy ending, of course!
But it is Annie that steals the show – productions of ‘Annie’ succeed or fail on finding the perfect girl to pay the title role and the casting director apparently saw over 2,000 wannabes before choosing the three to alternate for this touring production. Our ‘Annie’, Freya Yates was just brilliant – a great voice and a big personality combined with a vulnerability that had us all willing her on – a star in the making!
If your kids are already driving you crazy just a few days into the summer holidays with their eyes glued to a screen whilst constantly moaning ‘I’m bored’ then I may just have the answer…not only will this production of ‘Annie’ thoroughly entertain both them and you, but it might just help them realise that life isn’t quite so hard after all!
Annie runs at the Hippodrome until August 11.
Click here for tickets, times and more information.
Review by Johannah Dyer for Euan Rose Reviews