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 New York 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 runs the orphanage. Miss Hannigan feels like she has been unfairly treated in life and resents having to look after these children.
Miss Hannigan is a drunken, unhappy and lonely woman. Played by the one and only Craig Revel Horwood, traditionally this is not a drag role but Craig plays the role so well and with conviction that you would not know he is a man in drag at all. He makes a mighty fine woman. Craig can sing and dance but for me it was his level of acting that took it to the next level. He was truly outstanding and I found myself mesmerised every time he was on stage. Being a massive Strictly Come Dancing fan anyway I expected a good level of dancing and I can say that Craig didn’t have any poor hand placements or steps out of place unless it was intentional because he was acting drunk. I really adored him and can say that he was FAB.U.LOUS darling!
Annie (and the other children) are rotated in three teams. Tonight’s Annie was played by Freya Yates and she was exceptional. Her voice was so pure and just perfect for the role. She was cute and is a star in the making. Not pretentious at all. Maybe its time to confess - Annie is not my favourite musical and I have an aversion to pretentious kids so tend to avoid shows such as this. However, that just shows how wrong you can be. This show and cast are fantastic.
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 and not have to clean. 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 Carolyn Maitland and she is great in the role, with a stunning voice to match. She is a strong, professional woman who is very organised – everything you would expect working for a billionaire. Mr Warbanks is played by Alex Bourne and has a wonderful voice, giving warmth and character to Mr Warbanks 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. Richard Meek plays Rooster and Jenny Gayner 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 is one of my favourites in the show as they dance around Miss Hannigan’s office.
This show is a very 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 singers are all fantastic and are accompanied by a great orchestra to match. The choreography is fabulous and each scene gives some great dances including a bit of tap and some flapper dancing. Annie contains some great musical numbers including all the favourites such as it’s a 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.