Annie – Birmingham Hippodrome

Book: Thomas Meehan

Music: Charles Strouse

Lyrics: Martin Charnin

Director: Nikolai Foster

Reviewer: Hannah Powell

The 2019 cast of Annie certainly does not disappoint. In a world of government bankers and a society which seems to treat the working classes as something to exterminate, Annie brings with it not only incredibly orchestrated music and intricate choreography but most importantly an outside perspective of ourselves and the directions our own lives could potentially take us.

Starring Jodie Prenger as the delightfully diabolical Miss Hannigan and Alex Bourne as Daddy Warbucks we are transported to New York circa 1933 a tough environment with even tougher people all fighting to get to the top during the great depression. Mixed up in this business is our red-headed protagonist whose only wish is to find her mum and dad as impossible as that task may seem.

In this particular performance, Annie was played by the ridiculously talented Freya Yates whose powerful little voice and endearing qualities immediately make any audience member fall in love. Her brash nature and unshakeable confidence on stage is a perfect match for Annie and not easy to find in one so young. In fact, all the children involved in this show deserve a round of applause as not only do they feature heavily within the production, but they tackle complicated choreography and musical numbers like seasoned professionals.

Jodie Prenger is certainly no stranger to the stage and although the role of Miss Hannigan is the complete opposite of her stage debut as Nancy in Oliver! she tackles it like no other. Her shrill voice and drunkenly clumsy nature display the character for what she truly is, an alcoholic criminal who really has no business looking after children.

The stage is cleverly designed by Colin Richmond appearing as one huge master plan in the shape of puzzle pieces, one giant metaphor for Annie’s journey as she makes her way through New York trying to piece her life together bit by bit as she goes. The set, however, is not only applicable to Annie but also every character we see and maybe even ourselves. It is representative of our own life plans however complicated or simple they may be and the steps we ourselves have gone or shall go to achieve our dreams.

Overall, Annie is a light-hearted musical designed to pull on the heartstrings of its audiences. Despite the musical’s resolution appearing too easily resolved, Annie cannot be faulted in its ability to hold a mirror up to society and reflect elements of the audiences’ lives back at it. While of course, the subject matter can be unpleasant to some, the added musical numbers and childish antics provide integral moments of comic relief.

Runs Until 11 August 2019 and on tour | Image: Paul Coltas

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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