You can bet your bottom dollar you'll love Annie
Family-favourite Annie stopped off in Bucks as part of a UK tour as CAMILLA GOODMAN saw
THE new production of Annie, which came to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, is a real ray of sunshine.
I’ve only ever seen bits and pieces of the 1982 Annie film, so I was looking forward to seeing the story play out in full. However, what I was not expecting was just how much I would enjoy it.
Annie has been treading the boards for almost 40 years since its debut on Broadway in 1977, but the show did not seem dated or tired, it felt fresh, new and vibrant.
Those I have spoken to who have seen previous productions of Annie, including Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan, have praised the creators of this production for updating the show and refreshing it.
Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.
Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search.
Annie has all the right ingredients for a smash hit musical, with its plot, score and witty script - however this new production makes it even more than that with a spectacular set, beautiful costumes, lovely 1920s/30s style choreography, clever lighting and an extremely talented cast.
There are three teams playing Annie and the orphans on the UK tour. I went to see the show on opening night at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on Monday, March 14 and we had Team Tiffany, which sees the amazing Madeline Hayes play the title role. She truly is a little star. She made a great Annie, did a perfect New York accent and she had the best singing voice I have ever heard someone her age have.
Mark my words, Madeline Hayes has a huge career ahead of her. Remember her name.
The other orphans in Team Tiffany were also amazing and gave a flawless performance of Hard Knock Life and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.
Alex Bourne was perfect for the role of Daddy Warbucks and was great at developing the Billionaire’s character. He also had a stunning singing voice.
Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph was a brilliant Miss Hannigan and brought plenty of comic relief to the show.
Lesley said she was trying to make this version of Miss Hannigan likeable, and she has succeeded. I did not ‘hate’ this version of Miss Hannigan, I actually liked her and felt sorry for her.
It was her good for nothing brother Rooster who I disliked the most, but of course I loved the actor playing the part, Jonny Fines, who did a great job.
The only criticism I have of Lesley Jospeh, and in fact the whole show, is that sometimes her New York accent was a bit off and a bit of British or sometimes Australian came through.
However, she played the part so well that it was easy to forgive her for the minor slip ups.
I must also mention Holly Dale Spencer who played Grace Farrell, because she was fantastic.
Another cast member who deserves a mention is Amber the Labradoodle who played Sandy. She was adorable and very well trained.
The old showbiz saying goes ‘never work with children or animals,’ but Annie proves that is not true.
Of course, the majority of people know a few hits from Annie, such as Tomorrow (which little Madeline did perfectly, by the way) and Hard Knock Life, but I was surprised how many songs I actually knew, such as Easy Street, Maybe and I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here. This show really does have a great soundtrack.
Another thing I absolutely loved in this production was the set, which was made-up of jigsaw pieces with a map of New York on it and plenty of lights. It looked great.
Also the set transitions from somewhere like the orphanage, to Warbucks’ home to the streets of New York were very slick and very effective.
When I spoke to Lesley before the show, she said it was perfect for both children, oldies and everyone in between - and she was not wrong.
There was a real mix of ages in the audience, which was lovely, and everyone was totally transfixed on the show with big smiles beaming on their faces. I absolutely loved Annie. It is a top quality show that will leave you longing for more.
Annie will return to Bucks on May 30 to June 4 at Milton Keynes Theatre. Tickets cost £12.50 to £45. To book call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/ milton-keynes-theatre.