Annie – Piccadilly Theatre

Miranda Hart with the orphans in Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. Picture: Paul Coltas

Miranda Hart with the orphans in Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. Picture: Paul Coltas

Annie continues at the Piccadilly Theatre, London.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

This revival of Annie couldn’t have come at a better time. After all the bleak days we have faced recently, and the uncertain future ahead of us, Annie’s ability to stay optimistic and brave even in the darkest times is just what we need.

Put that together with some catchy tunes, a group of extremely talented kids, an adorable dog, and queen of comedy Miranda Hart, and you’ve got yourself a feel-good musical.

Annie started her life as a comic strip character by Harold Gray before heading to Broadway in 1977 with a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. This production, directed by Nikolai Foster, is the first time the show has been revived in the West End since 1998.

Eleven-year-old Annie has always dreamed of being reunited with her parents who left her on the orphanage’s doorstep as a baby with a locket and a promise to come back for her.

Billionaire bachelor Oliver Warbucks decides to invite an orphan to stay for Christmas and quickly warms to his new companion, learning that money means nothing if he doesn’t have anyone to share it with.

Foster recently directed Annie on tour, so he has had ample time to work on delivering the story in a magical and memorable way. Matched up with Nick Winston’s choreography, the show brilliantly creates the atmosphere of a glitzy New York life compared with the drudgery of the orphanage.

The night’s leading lady, Madeleine Haynes, and her team of orphans (Team Madison) never cease to amaze with their powerful vocals and sharp dance moves.

They smash their group numbers ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ and ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’. Madeleine’s confidence and performance make her a performer to watch out for in the future.

Miranda Hart makes her West End debut as Miss Hannigan, the kid-hating drunk who runs the orphanage.

Hart is used to presenting herself with the utmost warmth, but she manages to shake all that off for this role – well not all, but enough to show audiences what an excellent actress she truly is.

Her vocals come as a delightful surprise, and although it appears as if she is a bit unsure of her dance abilities, the more she relaxes, the more she is likely to enjoy this role.

Alex Bourne plays Warbucks with the right combination of seriousness and compassion – you can’t help but root for him.

Both Bourne and Holly Dale Spencer, as Warbucks’ assistant Grace Farrell, are reprising the parts they played in the touring production. The pair works wonderfully together, although more of a build up to their romantic relationship would be welcome.

The orphans sing: “It’s what you wear from ear to ear” in the song ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’. Those lyrics come to fruition as the audience leaves the theatre beaming.

Tal Fox

Readers may also be interested in:

West End Warbucks on appearing in ‘dream musical’ AnnieInterview

Tickets for Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre are available HERE.

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