*Tickets were gifted with no obligation to review.
How many times have you seen Annie? I am definitely up there in the twenties somewhere. It’s always on TV. Like all the time. The original, not the 2014 one. I still haven’t seen that yet! Should I?
As a child I would find a broom and loudly bang it on my bedroom floor. Sorry mum and dad. I’d enthusiastically sing along and belt out my best ‘Tomorrow’. The fact that Annie had red hair, and mine was strawberry blonde, made me like her even more.
And now the stage Musical has made its way to Manchester to kick off its 2019 UK tour, so you bet your bottom dollar I went along.
We all know the story
Annie is an orphan who lives in a really REALLY crappy orphanage ran by the drunken Miss Hannigan. Did a shiver just run down your spine? Luckily, the spunky red head is chosen to live with a millionaire, who she charms into helping her search for her real parents. But of course, the nasty Miss Hannigan has other ideas and plays some terrible tricks of her own.
With all its fun and energy, I actually really appreciated the 1930s historical, political and cultural references scattered throughout the show. It cemented the era they wanted to embody. From the struggle to capture Al Capone to Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression, it gave the lighthearted narrative some depth and truth. They were tough times and Annie was one teeny tiny unfortunate cog in the bigger picture.
The grown ups
And one person that made everything seem even harder was Miss Hannigan. This is where Anita Dobson is the stand out act of the night. She absolutely nails the alcoholic, common as muck and truly nasty persona of Hannigan. Not only can she act and sing, she also keeps up with the dance numbers. She’s 69!
Richard Meek as Rooster, Hannigan’s dodgy brother, is spot on and his misses, Lily, played by Jenny Gayner, is suitably slinky and seedy. Their quirky rendition of ‘Easy Street’ is one of the most memorable tracks of the night. Grace Farrell is a sweet, caring and likeable Carolyn, which balances well with Alex Bourne’s strong but soft inside Daddy Warbucks.
Every single one of these girls is a superstar. So professional and hard working. They bound on stage with liveliness, their faces animated and choreography slick. ‘Hard Knock Life’ has grit and they bring all the cuteness factor.
Taziva-Faye Katsande really gets the optimism of Annie’s character and she has a beautifully innocent and raw vocal. However, I did want her to show a tougher side. I remember Annie as a tomboy, rough around the edges and kind at heart. That’s all that is missing for me.
If there’s tap, I’m there
I wish I’d stuck to Tap after my 6 week course in college. I get an immediate injection of joy whenever I see it. And this musicals stylised choreography continues to mark that 1930s era and adds class and quality to the show. ‘Hooverville’ end up being my favourite number. This all really rounded off the night for me.
Annie the Musical is an utter joy. A charming, high energy and quality production that will entertain kids and adults alike.
Annie is playing in Manchester until 16 February.
Let me know if you have seen this Musical or the film!