Writer: Thomas Meehan
Music: Charles Strouse
Lyrics: Martin Charnin
Director: Nikolai Foster
Choreographer: Nick Winston
Reviewer: Sue Collier
Annie is set during the Depression of New York in the thirties. Like Cinderella, it tells the story of an abandoned child who is seemingly without prospects but whose personality shines through to charm everyone she meets. Annie lives in an orphanage, run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. She has a hard life and has to work to earn her keep. After unsuccessfully attempting to escape the orphanage, Annie spends Christmas with Billionaire Oliver Warbucks who quickly falls under her spell and decides to adopt her. Yet Annie dreams of finding her birth parents and living happily ever after. Warbuck’s love for Annie causes him to abandon his hopes of adopting her and instead he supports her search for her parents.
Three teams of young actors cover the various performances and on press night, a sterling job is done by Team Roxy, with the title rôle played by Madeline Haynes. Haynes is charmingly assertive yet appealing with a fabulously huge stage voice that easily fills an auditorium. Her manner is such that she has great story telling ability within her lyrics.
All members of Team Roxy are a treat to watch and listen to, and their complex choreography appears faultless. On occasion during ‘Hard Knock Life’, lyrics were a little difficult to discern while members of Team Roxy were positioned facing inwards towards the rear of the stage.
Craig Revel Horwood plays the drunken Miss Hannigan and while having an opportunity to critique his performance, one is tempted to seek fault. However this was not necessary, as he plays the neglectful orphanage superintendent with relish. His gender does not feel an issue; indeed, this is rather pantomime-like with relevant goodies and baddies to sabotaging Annie’s happiness. Horwood is a great song and dance man and two numbers in which he dances with Rooster and Lilly are wonderfully presented, with Horwood seemingly enjoying the entire performance.
The staging and lighting effects are top notch, with scene changes handled smoothly and barely noticeable. The scene in which Annie goes to the movies is incredibly creative, with hints of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and a group of sailors dancing, so as to hint at the film they are watching. Ben Cracknell’s lighting design is fluid and progresses the story well. Particular appreciation is paid to his representation of snow within the auditorium.
Daddy Warbucks is played by Alex Bourne who in Act two produces a warm expressive voice while singing lovingly towards Annie. It is a pity that he has so little singing to do within the earlier part of the story, as his vocal contributions were well received.
The rôle of dog Sandy is a cheery addition to the story, played by the incredibly friendly and waggy-tailed Amber, much to the delight of an appreciative audience.
The whole ensemble is of high quality, with strong vocal performances and Nick Winston’s great choreography (who would dare produce poor dancing on a show in which Revel Horwwood is given top billing)? On press night, the entire audience were on their feet and several calls of ‘brilliant’ were heard.
Runs until Saturday 03 October 2015