Annie The Musical
The amazing young cast knock this right outta the ball park, only overshadowed by Revel-Horwood’s amazing bosom (and Sandy the dog).
Annie, an original musical based on based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip created by Harold Gray has been wowing audiences since it’s 1st stage foray back in 1977. Spawning movies, countless Am Dram productions and a staple favourite with kids theatre schools it carries standards such as Tomorrow, Hard Knock Life, Easy Street and You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile.
The story opens in 1933 in New York City – instantly recognisable as post depression era when many parents found themselves unable to afford looking after their children and as such they were left abandoned to the state. Cue eleven-year-old Annie – living in an orphanage with many other girls her age but who still dreams of her parents coming back for her. Her optimism is much loved by the younger children, but ridiculed to the point of annoyance by the cruel keeper Miss Hannigan who takes great joy in inflicting penal servitude on the children in her ‘care’.
Determined to rid herself of the evil suppression , Annie runs away, finding solace with a stray dog Sandy but ultimately crossing paths with the local constabulary who duly return her back to the evil grasp of Miss H who exacts even more punishment to appease her own embarrassment having had one of her charges abscond.
Things take a more surreal turn when local billionaire and philanthropist Mr Warbucks decides he should take an orphan into his home for Christmas and instructs his assistant Grace to go find one. Grace immediately takes a shine to Annie, much to the chagrin of Mrs H who again finds herself having to face seeing her most despised orphan seemingly getting more than she deserves. She teams up with her ne’redowell brother to try and extort money from Warbucks by pretending to have found Annie’s long lost parents, but, as with all things, the truth comes out (on Christmas day) and the ending is happy after all.
The performance from the whole cast is simply stunning; the orphans, each one of them a pocket dynamo, have very powerful voices and take great pleasure in wrestling the limelight from each other (in the best way possible). Our lead for the night was Zoe Akinyosade – almost unbelievable to think she’s only 9 years old and already with a list of roles in Oliver, Les Mis, Matilda, High School Musical and Moana. Zoe was mesmeric, hold the stage, and the audience, in the palm of her hands while she gave a flawless performance.
Alex Bourne (Cinderella), is a wonderful Daddy Warbucks – big hearted, big voiced and towers over Annie like an protective cloak. His interaction with President Roosevelt feels exactly how the early 20th century America was; big business ‘guiding’ the president but deep down, all he wants is the family he never had, one which, in Annie, he can finally see. His confidante and aid, Grace Farrell is played by the brilliant Dawn Williams (Cats, Matilda The Musical).
Top billing duly goes to Craig Revel-Horwood as Miss Hannigan. Horwood’s gin soaked lush is more pleading than malicious and with his/her magnificent bosom he has created possibly the best loved villain in musical theatre. Sure, the accent slips a bit here and there, but that just adds to the illusion of Hannigan trying hard to be someone ‘she ain’t’. The song & dance numbers with her brother Rooster (Paul French) and Lily (Billie-Kay) might not score 10 out of 10 for accuracy but boy do they make up for it in style and attitude.
This is a feel good show from the 1st note to the last, dance routines that make you smile from ear to ear and a cameo by Sandy the dog to boot. To steal the lead’s catchphrase, it can be summed up in just 3 words – Fab-U-Lous (Darling).