Annie 

"A heart-warming evening of escapism; Annie is a must see"

As an avid musical theatre fan, I have a confession; I had never seen Annie. That said, I’m not unfamiliar with the image of Aileen Quinn as the bright, ringlet curled redhead orphan in the 1982 film portrayal of the stage classic.

It’s safe to say, I’ve been missing out, and I think the packed-out audience at Hull New Theatre this evening would agree.

Set in 1930s New York, during the Great Depression, we follow headstrong Annie’s life as an orphan. Annie longs for the day when her parents rescue her from her empty belly, rotten smelly, full of sorrow, no tomorrow, hard-knock life.

But, will her saviour be who she expects?

From the moment we enter the auditorium the staging and choreography is impeccable. Set to a creative backdrop of puzzle pieces, the orphans are already on the stage, laughing and chatting to one another in the background as we find our seats; seemingly soaking up the electric atmosphere, which we do too in anticipation of the show.

As the lights dim, we’re transported to Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. A run-down dormitory with a hodgepodge of teddy-cuddling orphans filling the beds. Nine-year- old Zoe Akinyosade commands the stage as our feisty heroine. Her vocals in the opening number ‘Maybe’ set the standard for the whole production.

We’re quickly introduced to the gin-swigging, neglectful, lush, Miss Hannigan, played by the fab-u-lous Craig Revel Horwood. As expected Craig plays a magnificent part; his mannerisms, vocals and footwork are pure perfection, particularly during ‘Easy Street’. Craig’s comedic timing and scathing expressions make his villainous Miss Hannigan a delight to watch.

The pocket-powerhouse orphans perfectly match the energy and standard set by Zoe and Craig, especially in their punchy and exhilarating performance of ‘Hard- Knock Life’. Each orphan is given their opportunity to shine; with the individual personalities very obviously woven in to their performance from the get go.

Throughout the show we experience flawless staging transitions; the effortless flow from one scene to the next allows ourselves to fully enjoy the escapism theatre brings.

As we continue through the show each musical number brings an added dimension of choreography and orchestral brilliance. Craig Revel Horwood’s rendition of ‘Little Girls’ offers spectacular silliness, ‘NYC’ brought the house down with an old-fashioned Broadway look, fantastic lighting and incredible choreography and the emotion portrayed by Alex Bourne as Daddy Warbucks in ‘Something Was Missing’ gave me goosebumps.

The entire cast and ensemble were outstanding; note for note pitch-perfect, exquisite dancing and perfectly refined characters.

Alongside Zoe Akinyosade and Craig Revel Horwood, I have to give special mention to Amelia Adams for her performance as Grace Farrell, Daddy Warbucks’ doting secretary. Amelia fully encompassed elegance, kindness and warmth throughout. Hers and Annie’s relationship and bond was utterly believable and endearing, as was her on-stage chemistry with Daddy Warbucks.

I was simply blown away by Zoe and the orphans. I found myself wondering how such powerful and commanding voices can come from such small people?! As they took their bows, and the entire theatre took to their feet for a rousing standing ovation, I felt like the proud parent of each and every one of them.

As an avid musical theatre fan, I have a confession; the musical theatre world was my oyster, but something was missing, I never quite knew, that something was someone. That someone was you, Annie.

This show was reviewed on Monday 23rd October 2023. Annie runs at Hull New Theatre until Saturday 28th October 2023. Tickets are available here: www.hulltheatres.co.uk/events/annie

Full tour details can be found here: Annie Musical UK Tour | Official site (anniethemusicaltour.uk)

Review written by Mel Cooper

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