REVIEW - Annie at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre is faultless and full-on - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Annie at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre is faultless and full-on

Bromsgrove Editorial 5th Apr, 2023 Updated: 5th Apr, 2023   0

Annie The Musical, based on the Harold Gray 1924 ‘Little Orphan Annie’ comic strip with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan first opened on Broadway back in 1977 and in the West End the following year.

There have been countless productions over the years plus four film versions.

It’s a show that’s etched in the hearts of many people, me included – I took my first-born son to see it in the West End at the tender age of four and he still remembers it – though he recalls the warm taxi après show on a cold foggy London night even better.

Birmingham’s Shona Lindsay – who made her professional debut at the Birmingham Hippodrome as Annie in 1980 – was a young Saturday morning student of mine at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. I can remember everyone crowding outside to hehea11-year-old Shona sing her audition song ‘Tomorrow’  – you could have heard it a mile away.

I have seen Annie several times since over the years, but this latest version is definitely the most full-on I’ve ever seen.

It’s faultless in delivery, with a stunning jigsaw puzzle set. Dancing from fingertips to toenails – teeth and smiles all the way – yet for me it’s actually a tad overproduced and as such, something is missing.




The show’s heart is beating, but not pounding, its blood is gushing, but not flowing and it’s tepid, not warm.

Having said that, there is much to enjoy. Take the orphan ensemble – from the moment the show opens in the dormitory at the New York City Orphanage and the little girls burst into song, the talent that greets you is exceptional and confident.


Annie herself played by Zoe Akinyosade does everything right, she looks and sounds perfect.

David Burrows was engaging and believable as Daddy Warbucks as was Lukin Simmonds as Franklin Roosevelt.

Amelia Adams as Warbuck’s assistant Grace Farrell is delightful and mercifully Sandy the dog is played by a real canine called Lily and not some annoying puppet.

Despite my overall reservation, I was bowled over by Craig Revel-Horwood as the evil drunk Miss Hannigan. I was expecting camp and parody and what I got was a complete and believable performance from an actor – not a drag artist – which stood apart and yet blended in. Revel-Horwood was Robin Williams reincarnated and I can’t give higher praise than that.

The music is spot on under the baton of Joshua Griffith, Harry Regan’s sound was muffled at times and Aaron Carter’s lighting always captured the mood.

The audience went home happy and so did I – but not ecstatic.

Annie runs at the Alexandra until Saturday, April 8. Click here for times, tickets and more information.

 

****

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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