As a wide-eyed ten-year-old who loved musical theatre, Annie was the bread and butter of my childhood. I even had an Annie-themed musical theatre party where my friends and I all sang ‘Hard Knock Life’. So imagine my excitement at hearing that Annie was touring nationally this year. I was lucky enough to see it at the Edinburgh Playhouse and I was thoroughly blown away.
Annie tells the tale of an eleven-year-old girl who lives at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage in New York City. She is cheeky and endlessly cheerful, even though their life with Miss Hannigan consists of endless hours of cleaning and sewing for her. Annie often tries to escape but is brought back countless times until one day, a Miss Grace Farrell comes to the orphanage on behalf of billionaire Mr Warbucks. Mr Warbucks is looking to take an orphan in for Christmas and Grace picks Annie. Annie is welcomed by the family, however longs to be reunited with her real parents. With Mr Warbucks’ connections and money, this is sure to be possible, but will Miss Hannigan and her dastardly brother, Rooster get in the way?
On the night I attended, Ava Smith played the titular role alongside her peers from the Empire State Team. This role is Smith’s professional debut and she played a wonderfully convincing and cheeky Annie with a beautiful and powerful singing voice to boot. The children who accompanied her as the other orphans were also wonderful and seemed to have a real camaraderie amongst them. The children really were the stars of this show.
Miss Hannigan was played by Lesley Joseph, whose acting was wonderful as the drunken orphanage manager. However her singing left a little to be desired with a great deal of ‘speak-singing’ and a performance of ‘Little Girls’ that didn’t live up to the high expectations I had from the 1982 film version.
Alex Bourne played a wonderful and endearing Daddy Warbucks who cared for Annie like she was his own daughter. Although his accent did slip at times, his singing was incredible and he created a wonderful father figure for Annie that we could really root for as an audience.
I would definitely recommend this production of Annie as a great night out. The children were simply excellent and had unrivalled energy and exuberance.
Tour dates and locations for Annie can be found here.