★★★☆☆ | Annie – National Tour
It’s a hard knock life for little orphan Annie. Living in the orphanage which is ruled with an iron fist by the devilish Miss Hannigan, Annie longs for the day when her parents will return to find her. After escaping from the orphanage and as Christmas approaches, she is chosen to spend two weeks with Mr Warbucks, a billionaire, at his home. But when he offers a large reward for finding Annie’s parents, Miss Hannigan plots to grab the money for herself.
Craig Revel Horwood is suitably sour faced as the gin-soaked Miss Hannigan, as he entertainingly camps it up a little and is clearly enjoying himself. The ensemble cast of children stay on the right side of twee as they all attack the musical numbers with gusto; whilst Sandy the dog received the biggest reaction from the audience as he trotted across the stage.
As a production, this show has a great deal to offer. With a set that has more than a shade of Matilda influence in it, the production values in this touring show are of a high standard. Nikolai Foster’s direction is steady and assured, the musical numbers are bouncy and vibrant with choreography which is light, fun and varied and the costumes, lighting design and props are all great.
Production values aside, the show itself is a little dated, rather twee, borders on the sickly sweet and loses some momentum during the second act; but remains a solid family show and a great introduction to musical theatre for younger family members. With a songbook which included Tomorrow, You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile and It’s A Hard Knock Life, this production of Annie turned out to be far more fun and much more entertaining than it had any right to be.