Based on the book by: Thomas Meehan
Music: Charles Strouse
Lyrics: Martin Charnin
Director: Nikolai Foster
Reviewer: Laura Hesketh
With a red-headed orphan, a child-hating matriarch and catchy show tunes such as NYC and the unforgettable Tomorrow, a fresh and uplifting revival of the classicAnnie,directed by Nikolai Foster, has tap-danced its way to the Bristol Hippodrome.
Set in 1930s New York, an era haunted by the Great Depression, young Annie, played on press night by the talented Sophia Pettit, has spent her childhood daydreaming about the parents who abandoned her with nothing but a locket necklace. Her life is instead blightedby the tyrannical Miss Hannigan, wickedly performed bySaturdaynight’s Mr Nasty himself, Craig Revel Horwood.
Determined to be reunited with Ma and Pa, Annie spends a whirlwind Christmas with billionaire Mr Oliver Warbucks and experiences a lavish lifestyle a million miles away from her hard knock life at the orphanage. But refusing any of her girls a chance of happiness and with dollar signs in her eyes, Miss Hannigan, her criminal brother and girlfriend – deliciously performed by Jonny Fines and Djalenga Scott – concoct a plan to make it big time. The trio’s rendition of Easy Street is delectably naughty, with fabulous choreography from Nick Winston that the Strictly judge would surely give a ten.
As the gin-drinking Miss Hannigan, Revel Horwood can not only dance – with sassy rhythm and poise, of course – but he can act and sing, and oozes nastiness. He resists the urge to be a panto drag queen and instead plays it straight, focusing on the dark side of Miss Hannigan’s harrowing desperation for money and men; his performance in the leading rôle is nothing but impressive and with a stellar cast behind him, this latest incarnation of the musical is captivating.
The leading lady, Pettit, was born to play the famous orphan; one of three young actresses who will steal the show, Pettit is fearless as the tough, witty and wise orphan and dazzles audiences with her outstanding vocals. Supported by a group of shining stars, “Team Waldorf” does not put a foot wrong and there is certainly no “maybe”, that they all have bright futures ahead of them.
Alex Bourne masters the billionaire’s transformation from imposing businessman to a loving Daddy Warbucks, smitten with both Annie and Holly Dale Spencer’s savvy Grace Farrell.
Of course, no review of this classic musical would be complete without applauding Annie’s furry sidekick Sandy, played by the adorable labradoodle, Amber, who stole the hearts of the audience.
A fairytale musical with plenty of heart, a new generation of Annie-wannabes will inevitably fall in love with the orphan’s coming-of-age story and in days to come will be perfecting their singing and dancing to be the next red-headed orphan.
Runs until Saturday 5 September 2015 as part of a UK tour.