When I went: 29 September 2017
Location: Piccadilly Theatre, London
Performers: Craig Revel Horwood (Miss Hannigan), Alex Bourne (Daddy Warbucks), Anne Smith (Mrs Pugh), Madeleine Haynes (Annie), Jonny Fines (Rooster), Djalenga Scott (Lily), Holly Dale Spencer (Grace Farrell), Russell Wilcox (Lt Ward / Franklin Roosevelt), Bobby Delaney (Bert Healy), Keisha Atwell (Connie), Nic Gibney (Drake), Patrick Harper (Fred McCracken), George Ioannides (Bundles), Kate Somerset How (Mrs Greer), Katie Warsop (Cecile), Ellicia Simondwood (Molly), Eve MacLaughlan (Pepper), Nicole Dube (Duffy), Carla Dixon (July), Scarlet Grace (Tessie), Shani Roberts (Kate)
Creative team: Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music), Martin Charnin (lyrics), Nikolai Foster (director), Colin Richmond (set and costume designer), Nick Winston (choreographer), George Dyer (orchestrations and musical director), Michael Harrison and David Ian (producers)
Approximate price: £110
Special points: Energy, Craig in drag
Best bit: It’s The Hard Knock Life
If I could change one thing: Less of a second half dip
Annie is a fairly old musical (it first came to Broadway in 1977) and unusually, it was based on a comic strip. Set in the 1920s and 1930s, it includes several references to President Roosevelt – who is featured surprisingly prominently – Hooverville, and inequality in New York at that time.
Most people probably think of Tomorrow when they think of the songs, but actually several of the musical numbers are really strong – NYC, It’s The Hard Knock Life, Little Girls, You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile. However, there is a second half dip – much of the second half is taken up with reprises. The plot is sweet if a little unbelievable (why would President Roosevelt abandon his own family and the White House on Christmas Day?!).
Craig Revel Horwood, succeeding the comedienne Miranda in the role of Miss Hannigan, earned his top billing through strong vocal performances and great comic timing. The younger performers had tons of energy and It’s The Hard Knock Life was a highlight, with really crisp dancing. Russell Wilcox also sang really well as Roosevelt.
The central relationship (between Annie and Daddy Warbucks) was believable and sweetly portrayed by Madeleine Haynes and Alex Bourne. Jonny Fines and Djalenga Scott as Rooster and Lily were very funny and worked well with Craig in the Easy Street number.
This version of Annie has some of the energy of Matilda and is a solid (if not particularly edgy) presentation of the musical.