First of all, I have a bit of a confession to make. I have never seen Annie at the theatre before tonight, or ever attempted the film. The shrieking ginger orphan has never interested me particularly…sorry musical lovers. Before you close the window tab in disgust please hear me out. I decided I would give tonight a go, and I’m SO PLEASED I did!
Even before the house lights went down I was intrigued by the set, which was colourful and refreshingly modern. I won’t discuss the plot too much, as any self respecting ‘Annie’ fan will already know it, and going in blind actually worked really well for me! The show opened with an incredible energy and the children sang and danced their holey little socks off. I generally avoid any theatrical production with children in it (other than the beloved Christmas Panto of course!) but I cannot praise them highly enough for their honed vocals, concise choreography and professionalism. Lesley Joseph played a comical and debauched Miss Hannigan, which worked wonderfully throughout, although I liked her too much to find her truly evil! Maybe it was our shared love for gin. There were loads of set changes and I can’t commend the cast enough for how slick they were with the transitions. They were all really well written into the scenes and made sure the audience stayed interested. The whole show flowed beautifully and is a real credit to everyone who worked so incredibly hard to make it smooth. The lighting, props and wardrobe were top quality, and I feel that this production has very little to improve upon. It is rare to find such a consistently strong cast, who truly looked as though they were loving every minute of the show. I have to admit to a slight crush on Rooster (Jonny Fines) which I will attribute to his top quality singing, dancing and convincing ‘bad boy’ swagger. Alex Bourne was a powerful and loving Mr Warbucks, beautifully combining his business man persona and his softer, more fatherly side.
This is a fairly brief review but really all I can say is that this is what theatre is truly about. I was unsure I would enjoy this evening, but the performance embodied everything I would expect from a high calibre show. More if I’m honest. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time, and I wish its cast and crew lots of well deserved success.