Set during the aftermath of the Wall Street crash of ’29, Annie the Musical was originally based on Harold Gray’s comic strip ‘Little Orphan Annie’. With world-famous songs such as ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’, it’s not surprising that Annie is a popular choice for both screen and stage. John Huston’s 1982 film starring Albert Finney as the influential billionaire Oliver Warbucks is a true classic, one many children remember fondly. Now director Nikolai Foster undertakes the challenge of making the show relevant for modern day audiences in the new touring production.
Colin Richmond’s imposing set, pieces of jigsaw which light up accordingly, is a metaphor for Annie’s journey through NYC. Saved from the grasp of tyrannical orphanage supervisor Miss Hannigan, Annie spends two weeks with the famous billionaire Oliver Warbucks. After a failed attempt to find Annie’s parents, including the uncovering of Hannigan and brother Rooster’s plot to get their hands on Warbuck’s reward money, Annie eventually finds a new home with her rich patriarch, whilst the girls at the orphanage also benefit from Warbuck’s generous donations.
Strictly Come Dancing Judge Craig Revel Horwood stars as the stumbling, gin-drinking hag Miss Hannigan. Whilst the idea of a male actor playing Miss Hannigan may be amusing, there didn’t really seem any reason for this, so at times some scenes did seem a little flat. Revel Horwood did however put on an impressive New York accent and his rendition of ‘Easy Street’ along with Jonny Fines as Rooster and Djalenga Scott as Lily was pleasingly sleazy.
The whole production is very tightly choreographed by Nick Winston, with punchy dance routines and impressively sleek scene changes. Madeline Haynes is fantastic as Annie, her powerful voice perfect for renowned numbers. The orphans all perform skilfully; their ability to perform a combination of singing, acting and dancing is impressive. Alex Bourne gives an outstanding performance as ‘Daddy’ Warbucks, whilst Holly Dale Spencer is the perfect counterbalance as the compassionate and elegant Grace. Amber, the two-year-old Labradoodle, steals every scene she’s in as Sandy the stray Dog, with audiences dazzled by her skills.
With solid vocals and tight dance routines, Annie is bound to become a firm family favourite show as it continues its tour around the UK.
Wales Millennium Centre until August 29