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Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. Yes, Annie comes to Milton Keynes Theatre bringing a ray of sunshine along with it.

Annie is a show set during the depression in the early 1930’s and tells the story of Annie, an optimistic orphan who is hoping her mum and dad are still going to come back for her. The show paints a bleak picture of what it was during this period, for example the orphans who work to make money for Miss Hannigan who ran the orphanage. Miss Hannigan feels like she has been unfairly treated in life and resents having to look after these children.

Miss Hannigan is played by Lesley Joseph, who is most well-known as Dorien from Birds of a Feather. But as Miss Hannigan she is unrecognisable as Dorien in this role, giving an outstanding performance of a slightly drunken, unhappy and lonely woman. Her commitment to the role is fantastic and she really is the Miss Hannigan that you expect, giving a perfect performance.

Annie (and the other children) are rotated in three teams. Tonight we were treated to the talented kids in team Liberty. Annie in this team is played by Anya Evans and she was everything you would expect from Annie. She not only could sing beautifully but gave a great New York accent too. She brought humour to the role (Oh Boy!) and really gave us an Annie that we could love.

Annie keeps wanting to run away to look for her parents but by chance happens to be in the room when a Billionaire’s assistant, Grace, is talking to Miss Hannigan about having an orphan stay with him for two weeks over the Christmas holidays. Annie puts herself forward and despite Miss Hannigan’s reservations, Annie is chosen to stay with Mr Warbucks. It is another world that Annie enters and she is very happy just to have a new coat. She works her way into Mr Warbucks heart and he is keen to adopt her but she still is hoping to find her real parents so a national search is launched. Grace is played by Holly Dale Spencerand she is great in the role, demonstrating the diversity that money can provide. She is a strong, professional woman who is very organised – everything you would expect working for a billionaire. Mr Warbucks is played by Alex Bourne and has a wonderful voice, giving warmth and character to Mr Warbucks so that we would want him to adopt us; not just because he is a billionaire but because he is kind too.

Meanwhile, Miss Hannigan brother, Rooster, has returned and he introduces her to his new girlfriend called Lily. Jonny Fines plays Rooster and Djalenga Scott plays Lily and they are everything you would expect in their roles, playing ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ characters looking for easy street. Miss Hannigan would also like an easier life and their number Easy Street gives us a great dance number around Miss Hannigan’s office.

This show is a professional and high quality show. Every performer gives an exemplary performance and the whole show really does take you to another world for a few hours. The sets are fantastic with the lighting giving it real atmosphere. Even the way they move the sets on and off the stage is an art. The seats for a movie turn into a sleigh ride with the dancers turning into horses. This is a show with real imagination! The singers are all fantastic with a great orchestra to match. And even the accents are true to form and give a real New York feel to the show. The choreography is fabulous and each scene gives some great dances including a bit of tap and some flapper dancing. The Hooverville number is a great example of this. Annie contains some great musical numbers including all the favourites such as Hard Knock Life, Tomorrow and Easy Street.

The whole show is amazing and it’s a show of such a high quality that you will be in awe of each scene. If you want the sun to come out tomorrow then come and see Annie and give this orphan a home.

5 stars.

This review was originally published for About Milton Keynes website.

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