October 15

Annie – A Review by Louise Oram

A visit to the Birmingham Hippodrome is always a thrill but when I heard that one of my favourite musicals, Annie, was coming here, I was doubly excited! I’m sure most people will know the story, but for those who don’t…

The title character, Annie, is an orphan living under the care of the dreadful Miss Hannigan in a New York home for girls. Annie wants nothing more than to find her real parents who left her on the steps of the orphanage as a baby, promising in a note to return and collect her someday. Miss Hannigan is a mean drunk who treats the girls badly and runs the home more like a workhouse. Annie runs away from the orphanage, but is soon caught and returned to Miss Hannigan and it is at that point that fates intervenes and saves Annie from being punished. A rich philanthropist, Oliver Warbucks, has decided to take an orphan into his home for the Christmas holidays and Annie is chosen. She has an amazing time with ‘Daddy’ Warbucks, but confesses to him that all she wants is to find her real parents, so he offers a reward of $50,000 and uses all of his influence to try and reunite Annie with her mom & dad. On hearing about the reward, the scheming Miss Hannigan forms a plot with her brother and his girlfriend to pretend they are Annie’s parents. As in all good stories, the evil plan is foiled at the last moment by the hero, Warbucks. He saves Annie from being taken away, and adopts her himself.

This adaptation of the story was just as joyous and compelling as I remembered the film to be. Sophia Petit’ Annie was just delightful – cute and funny – with a fantastic singing voice that did true justice to the old favourites: ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Maybe’. In fact all the children in the production were really wonderful. I can’t imagine how much courage it takes to get up on stage in a packed theatre and not only speak but sing and dance too! I was truly in awe. The adult stars were great too. Craig Revel Horwood can really act (who knew?) and sing and dance! His portrayal of the tyrannical Miss Hannigan was hilarious and menacing in equal measure.

Credit also needs to go to the Set Designer, Colin Richmond, for providing a really excellent back-drop which changed with a real fluidity and ease, echoing the performances in front of it. The story moved from the girls’ dormitory in the orphanage, to the streets of New York, to the Warbucks Mansion, seamlessly without the audience being any the wiser.

There were quite a few children in the audience and I worried when I first took my seat that the experience might be a bit ‘pantomime-y’ with children feeling the urge to shout out or be disruptive, but it wasn’t like that at all. The show moved along at a good pace and kept everyone’s attention – even the younger members of the audience – from start to finish.

I left the Hippodrome with a big smile on my face, a spring in my step, and ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ on repeat in my head. This is the perfect show for all ages – really lovely family fun – so you should definitely try and get tickets quickly before they all sell out.

by Louise Oram

Annie runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 31st October

Further details can be found here