Annie @ Piccadilly Theatre
Cast Includes Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan
Running Time: 2 hours 20 mins, inc. Interval
Annie is possibly one of the most famous musicals of all time, thanks to the 1982 film (starring Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan) which is regularly still repeated to this day. However, the original stage version has many differences to its film counterpart, with many different music numbers and an altered climax to the piece. The piece has had a major impact on musical theatre, possibly most notably on Matilda with its large child cast and female lead, but also on films such as Beauty and the Beast (‘Be Our Guest’ sharing many similarities to ‘I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here’)
The narrative of the piece is sound, however, it is possibly starting to date – based on comic strips from the late 1920s and 30s, the 1977 script does not hold up well to modern eyes – many of the characters feel two-dimensional and the plot point of ‘Daddy’ Warbucks falling for the youngster feels slightly creepy and also implausible, along with Annie inspiring Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Musically, the show is good – there are many memorable songs in the show such as ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Easy Street’ and ‘It’s The Hard Knock Life’, however, the show relies on many reprises and the best musical material has been used up before the interval. The orchestration and choreography of the revival is good – the songs show are good range of dynamic variation and the dancing is fun, which is essential on a piece like this.
One of the main draws for many audience members will be Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan – the comedienne acquits herself well, giving great comic timing and bundles of charm. Her singing isn’t the best on the West End, though she fully commits, especially in ‘Little Girls’, which is more semi-tuned shouting. The rest of the cast is good, especially the children – Annie was exceptional and should have a bright future ahead of her.
The staging of the piece is good, though very obviously influenced by Matilda, with puzzle pieces replacing the letters – this seemed at a slight disconnect to the piece and was possibly not as successful as the letters representing Matilda’s love of reading. The rest of the set and staging is successful, with slick scene changes and colourful and bright sets which really match the show.
Summary: A sturdy revival of a classic, which is possibly starting to show its age, but full of good performances and songs. ***