REVIEW: ANNIE (Piccadilly Theatre) ★★★★

With a plethora of musicals featuring children currently consuming the bright lights of Theatre Land, Annie joins the ranks following a successful nationwide tour. The show, telling the story of a young redhead New Yorker during the great depression, who takes on the world with nothing more than a positive attitude and the tattered clothes on her back, returns to the West End for the first time since its last outing in 1998.

Nikolai Foster’s production is energetic and fresh, with dazzling show numbers and a thought provoking puzzle piece set design by Colin Richmond, providing more than enough to feast one’s eyes upon. Teamed with Nick Winston’s daringly original choreography, this a show that young children will very readily sit through from start to finish.

The main draw of this production for most however is that of Comedienne and overall “what I call” television star Miranda Hart as the villainess ‘Miss Hannigan’. With this being the Actress’ first venture onto the musical stage, there has been much anticipation as to whether she’ll deliver. Verdict… Although likeable, Hart’s performance doesn’t feel at all threatening, being riddled with oodles of ‘Miranda-ism’s’ sharing the same ticks and awkward nuances as her successful TV counterpart felt somewhat cheap. This being said, Hart (although not the most confident singer) relishes the comedy of the role with ease and individuality.

The real stars of this piece however are the children. From the title character to the teeniest tot all were energetic, sassy, funny and deeply talented. There was not a single moment that they were on stage that I wasn’t grinning from ear to ear. Simply exceptional!

With exciting ensemble numbers and familiar, toe tapping tunes such as “Hard Knock Life”, “Tomorrow” and the wickedly rousing “Easy Street ‘Annie’ delivers a family friendly punch certainly worth its ticket price. Although the story feels somewhat rushed at times and there are more than a few wobbly vocals, you can bet your bottom dollar there is something in this show for everyone.

Reviewed by Jimmy Richards
Photo: Paul Coltas

Annie is booking at the Piccadilly Theatre until 6 January 2018. Book tickets