Almost 50 years after its original opening, ANNIE the musical is still as poignant and moving. It’s a story of chosen family, of optimism and finding joy. With hit numbers ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’ Annie has been a worldwide success, most notably the 1982 film. The UK tour brings the original theatre production to Wimbledon.
The show is set in 1933 New York during the Depression era. Annie is a red-headed orphan at Hudson Street Orphanage run by cruel Mrs Hannigan who makes the girls do hard labour in exchange for their keep. This year Oliver Warbucks decides to take on an orphan for Christmas and Annie is the chosen one. Despite growing fond of Annie he promises to find her real parents and offers a $50,000 dollar reward. With a call out on the radio, meeting with President Roosevelt and a locket. Will the reward money help to find them? Or is it the perfect opportunity to swindle some cash?
Nikolai Foster has successfully brought back the sweet nostalgia of the Broadway hit. The pace is very watchable and the moving parts are so seamless you don’t notice them happening. The clever use of gliding set pieces and scene-within-scene transitions are exciting to watch. The small details are considered throughout and it makes for a brilliant show with glitzy production value.
Harlie Barthram is an absolute joy to watch as Annie. She sings the role with ease and her beautiful performance had the audience on their feet. The children are by far the stars of this production. Not only are they a tight ensemble but they manage slick set changes and choreography that would make any adult performer tremble.
Craig Revel Horwood (Strictly Come Dancing) is a fearless Mrs Hannigan. He has made the role his own as he returns to this role for the third time and makes great choices. Alex Bourne is perfectly cast as Warbucks and Amelia Adams makes for a gorgeous Grace. Paul French and Billie-Kay are a fiery Rooster and Lily. The ensemble cast are incredible and lift the show through its slightly absurd storyline.
Colin Richmond’s set of glowing jigsaw pieces is magnificent as Nick Winston’s choreography sweeps elegantly across the stage.
This is a dazzling start to the Christmas season and a family must-watch.
Review: Nicole Botha