Annie is a musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip "Little Orphan Annie", with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck soon changes when she's chosen to spend a fairy-tale Christmas with famous billionaire; Oliver Warbucks and his faithful secretary; Grace Farrell. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan with her brother; Rooster and his egotistical gold digger girlfriend; Lily St. Regis to spoil Annie’s search for her true family.
I was very disappointed with two lead adult characters of the show. Anita Dobson played the role of the cruel Miss Hannigan however Dobson's portrayal wasn't great as I felt that she was too nice as Miss Hannigan. Dobson didn't look drunk enough on stage and this affected the whole show as Miss Hannigan is a Gin addict and this wasn't presented well by Dobson. Her vocals weren't the best and Dobson didn't participate in nearly every bit of the choreography so there was also lack of movement in her performance. Alex Bourne played the role of "Daddy" Warbucks. Most of the dialogue was lost as Bourne was saying his lines very fast at times and some of those lines were significant to the plot. His singing skills were good but not great. Something was missing in Bourne's performance as the relationships between his character; Warbucks and other characters weren’t believable, presented clearly and developed.
The lead role; Annie was played incredibly well by Taziva-Faye Katsande on the night we saw the show. Katsande's vocals were really lovely and her acting skills were very strong and developed. It was a joy to watch Katsande as she was full of energy and passion in every scene she was in and Annie rarely leaves the stage. This young actress definitely owned the stage and deserves a huge Well Done for her spectacular performance! Katsande is joined on stage by 6 other orphans played by different team each night and we were lucky enough to see the brilliant Chrysler Team. These young kids are absolutely amazing and burst with energy every time they make an appearance. The special mention must go to Lyla Toplass who played July as she stood out because of her phenomenal facial expressions and exceptional dancing skills.
From Left to Right: Tessie (Siena Austen), Kate (Fifi Bloomsbury-Khier), Duffy (Kacey Agwuegbo), Pepper (Drew Phoebe Hylton), July (Lyla Toplass) and Molly (Orla Mcdonagh)
Carolyn Maitland played the lovable Grace Farrell. I am a huge fan of Maitland and she didn't disappoint me at all. Her fabulous acting skills were presented clearly, and I loved her stunning vocals. Richard Meek played the role of Rooster exceedingly well alongside Jenny Gayner as Lily St. Regis who was equally good. The duo was hilarious, and their comic timing was spot on.
The ensemble was nailing the beautiful harmonies and the exceptionally hard choreography. They were in literally every scene as different characters and that just shows how talented these actors/actresses are.
The set designed by Colin Richmond was huge but yet disappointing due to the fact that it stayed the same throughout the show with only few set pieces dropped or pushed onto the stage which didn't show the setting clearly. I was scared for the cast members on stage as every time Warbucks's massive doorway was on and someone opened or closed the door it was shaking really badly and could potentially fall but luckily it didn't.
I understand what the director of this production; Nikolai Foster wanted to achieve and although it was impressive, it took away the magic of the original version of this show. I must mention Nick Winston's mind-blowing choreography as it is literally mesmerizing and catchy.
Because this production has just opened and it still has many chances to improve for better, This Show Gets: