Annie – At the Picadilly Theatre.
Annie is a musical that even non musical theatre lovers have seen, whether that’s on stage, the original movie or even the more recent film version. For those that have managed to somehow avoid it Annie tells of a group of Orphans, living with Miss Hannigan. When Mr Warbucks secretary, Grace comes to the orphanage to take an orphan to the Warbucks residence for Christmas Annie is the chosen one. Mr Warbucks really begins to care for Annie throughout her stay but when plans are put in place to adopt her Annie remains determined to find her natural parents and a nationwide search is put in place to find them.
The first thing that strikes you upon arrival into the auditorium at the Picadilly Theatre is the set. Around the proscenium and the wings is pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, symbolising Annie’s journey through life in New York and trying to put together the pieces of her life. Its an impressive first impression and the rest of the set continues at this level, whilst proving functional at the same time. Warbuck’s house has a grand feeling about it despite the set itself being fairly simple where as Hooverville nicely contrasts this with a grubby set of makeshift shelters.
The star casting in Annie is Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan. It took me a while to warm to him but from ‘Easy Street’ onwards I had got over the fact that it was a man playing the part and began to enjoy his performance. His delivery of the character was fun and his dance ability added to the part. Alex Bourne was Daddy Warbucks, you warmed to him instantly with a nice mix of stern billionaire businessman combined with a man bowled over by Annie.
The children themselves steal the show, as is often the way in the West End these days. Molly, played by Ellicia Simonwood on the night I saw Annie, gets the ‘ahhhhh’ factor often and the orphans commitment to their dance in ‘Hard Knock Life’ could put many professional adults to shame. Madeline Haynes took on the title role on the night I was in. At times she was a bit shouty, especially during ‘Tomorrow,’ and verged on precocious however she was incredibly solid.
Annie is very much a product of it’s time, set against the backdrop of the depression. The show was presented very traditionally and at times verging on twee yet in doing so it manages to retain its original charm and allows for a night of pure escapism in the theatre. The one element that veers slightly away from a traditional interpretation is the choreography by Nick Winston. The choreography was fresh and exciting and avoided mops and buckets for the children and allowed quirky to come through in Hooverville.
Overall Annie takes you back to the classic days of musical theatre where a night out at the theatre is filled with recognisable tunes, larger than life characters and a traditional old fashioned innocent fun.
I saw this show courtesy of SeatPlan – a website that lets you check out the view from numerous seats in West End theatres and further afield such as Birmingham, Edinburgh and Oxford. It includes genuine audience members reviews for the seats – if you look hard enough you might even find some of my own reviews on there! You can even earn theatre vouchers from posting your own reviews and photos. Kinky Boots is currently booking until March 2018 and tickets can be purchased through Seat Plan. Annie is currently booking until February 18th 2018.