Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre
The 1977 musical about an iconic red-headed orphan is back in the West End, at the Piccadilly Theatre to be precise, and this 2017 revival embraces the heart of the original show right to its core. With the addition of Miranda Hart to the UK touring cast, Nikolai Foster’s Annie provides a showcase of talent amongst all ages, and sheds a beaming multi-coloured filter over a period of history that has seen far darker days.
The story begins in New York City where we find Annie (Madeleine Haynes), an eleven-year-old orphan. She dreams of being reunited with the parents who dropped her off at the orphanage as a baby, and hatches a plan to escape the cruel environment that has been thrust upon her and the other children by the wicked alcoholic caretaker Miss Hannigan (Miranda Hart). After breaking out into the mean, depression-hit streets of 1930s New York, she is eventually caught and returned to whence she came. Out of the blue, lonely billionaire bachelor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (Alex Bourne) takes her in for Christmas, and their mutual neediness and their personalities draw them closer to each other in a search for Annie’s parents.
The production itself has almost entirely been publicised through Miranda Hart’s image, but there is indeed more than meets the eye when concerning the British TV persona. After demonstrating her ability to portray a sexually driven, alcoholic child loather, she then more than capably carries her rendition of Little Girls on her shoulders without breaking a sweat. When on stage with her orphans, things are electric and there is a very evident connection and chemistry between the girls. Madeleine Haynes plays the plucky title character with the comic timing and wit that is expected of an Annie of the highest quality, and she must also be commended on her execution of what has clearly been hours upon hours of rehearsals for musical numbers such as I Don’t Need Anything But You. There is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright for the younger members of the cast.
The rest of the ensemble light up the stage with excellent performances of some of the lesser known numbers in the show, such as We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover, and the set throughout the play is ingenious, helping to create an effective atmosphere during each scene without subtracting from the dialogue. It could be argued that Annie is sadly a musical that isn’t surviving the tests of time, due to its setting in a tiresome period of history, baring little connection with 21st-century audiences, but the great joy of Nikolai Foster’s production is how it takes this potential drabness and, with some questionable American accents put aside, transforms it into a bright and colourful experience that engages the audience in an entertaining evening of traditional musical theatre.
Photos: Paul Coltas / Matt Crockett
Annie is at the Piccadilly Theatre from the 23rd May 2017 until 6th of January 2018. Book your tickets here.