Digital Editor Cara-Louise Scott finds Annie to be an enticing take on the original with some changes which overall made the show to be one of the best she has seen in a while
Annie is an iconic musical that contains catchy songs and dazzling performances, alongside lovable characters (and the one’s you’re supposed to hate) with an entertaining, wholesome plot.
Currently showing at The Alexandra in Birmingham, the original was released in 1982 and a recent version of Annie also came out in 2014, featuring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. The musical is set during the Great Depression in 1933, and makes lots of contextual references to the president, Roosevelt, and the political troubles and looming war of the time. The costumes in this version of Annie were characteristic of this period, transporting us back in time, creating an authentic setting for the musical.
The musical tells the story of a young girl called Annie, who lives in an orphanage in New York City, run by the nasty Miss Hannigan. Luckily for Annie, she is taken in by Warbucks, a billionaire, and begins her journey towards finding her real parents whilst also taking an unexpected journey of potential adoption. This adaptation of Annie stays close to the original story in its plot, but at times it does feel as if we move quickly in the first half; however, the pace does ease smoothly in the second act.
The first scene, with the young girls and Annie in the orphanage, situates us straight in the problem of these orphans being stuck with Miss Hannigan and the hardship they have to face. This production uses the set and props extremely well to enhance the scene; beds, blankets and cushions were used as well as a trolley cart. These props and the position of the beds enable the actors to play around during the song ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’, using the props for exaggeration and the space around and on the beds for dancing.
The actors carefully switch the sets too, with the moving back and forth between the Warbucks’ home and Miss Hannigan’s orphanage, and they all move pieces of the set in crafty ways to make the transition smooth. There is one scene with one of the orphan girls pushing a cart with another girl in it holding a ‘New York City’ sign so we know that Warbucks and Annie are back in the city.
It must be noted that Craig Revel-Horwood played the character of Miss Hannigan immensely well; it was a big role to fill but he was able to successfully convey the nasty and funny sides of the character. He is an incredibly talented actor with a gifted musical voice too. The actor who played Annie was also exceptionally gifted too and was bubbly and entertaining the whole way through.
Hearing the iconic songs such as ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’ and ‘Tomorrow’ live was also a joyous experience; everyone’s voices were beautiful to listen to, with the stand-outs being Annie, her orphan friends, and Warbucks’ secretary Grace (Amelia Adams). The cast even had the audience singing ‘Tomorrow’ at the end.
Despite some unknown issues just before the interval which haltered the performance slightly, all the actors came back better than ever in the second act, and didn’t let the problems get in the way of creating a breath-taking, enjoyable show. This production of Annie was certainly one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen in theatre in terms of acting, choreography and vocals.
The tribute at the end, spoken by Craig Revel-Horwood, for the late Paul O’Grady was, for me, an emotional and fitting way to end the performance. Overall, Annie was nothing short of incredible; it offers a heart-warming story and soundtrack, with a fun, entertaining performance that everyone needs to experience at least once in their life.
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