Leapin’ lizards! It’s good to have Annie back.
The rags to riches tale of an orphan trying to find her parents in 1920s New York is a staple for musical lovers, and this new tour is worth your buck.
Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan. Photo by Paul Coltas
Nikolai Foster’s Annie is totally enjoyable for all the family - whilst being shiny, sometimes silly, and slick, it also has some proper grit behind it. In today’s cost of living crisis, Thomas Meehan’s book, referencing the Great Depression and nestled in the Hooverville slump, has weight, without rejecting the fun.
Craig Revel Horwood’s turn as Miss Hannigan is a certified crowd-pleaser. The busty orphanage authoritarian necks back gin as medicine and stumbles and slurs her New Yorker accented smears. It’s so ridiculously over the top, it’s irresistible. Partner that with Paul French’s sensationally smarmy Rooster and Billie-Kay’s desperate wannabe Lily, and you have a trio of money-hungry baddies hell-bent on a one way ticket to “Easy Street”.
In comparison, as the name-dropping Daddy Warbucks, Alex Bourne is simply charismatic alongside Amelia Adams as a divinely elegant Grace Farrell. The picture of health and wealth.
Colin Richmond has framed the stage with puzzle pieces fixing together a map of New York that glow as Annie discovers her heritage and past. The kids ride in laundry baskets and on pull along trains to help the narration, whilst Sandy the dog runs obediently across the stage to distract scene changes - and it works! Oversized doors, of Miss Hannigan’s office and Daddy Warbuck’s mansion, exemplify the little-ness of the little girls with big dreams and the offerings behind the doors themselves.
The child cast themselves are lightning. At this performance, Zoe Akinyosade is the red-haired orphan and truly the star of the show. In the iconic role, she played Annie with a quiet assurance. She’s joined by the other “kids” (Team Chrysler were on this evening) who fly across the stage, shrieking and stomping as they sew for Miss Hannigan. They raucously fire through the classic numbers - “Hard Knock Life” and “Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” with a vengeance and pride for their common roots; all heavy accents and heavy footed. They are backed brilliantly by George Dyer’s directed orchestra who fill the room and keep the delightful tunes in your head long after the show finishes.
The adult cast too have a blast with Nick Winston’s nifty choreography. Extravagantly wrapped presents are passed between legs as champagne glasses are balanced on trays ("A New Deal For Christmas") and the streets of “N.Y.C” are transformed with a golden age tap routine in tribute to the shining city.
Got tickets to a performance? I think you’re going to like it here!
Annie plays at Curve before heading on a UK tour