Hull New Theatre – until 6th April 2109
Reviewed by Cath McWilliams
Everyone knows the story of Annie, don’t they? Well not quite, somewhere along the line Annie had passed me by and I went to Hull New Theatre with only a vague idea of what I was going to see and I have to admit with the feeling that this maybe wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. So what did I make of it? I was blown away by the sheer talent on stage, the music, the costume, the choreography, it was absolutely wonderful and had a sheer joy that left me with a huge grin on my face.
Annie is set in New York in the early 1930s and is the story of an eleven year old girl who was left at an orphanage as a baby by her parents, unfortunately for Annie, Miss Hannigan is in charge of the orphanage and makes the girls lives a miserable one. Despite this Annie retains a cheerfulness and optimism about her life, sure that her parents will come back for her. Annie goes to the billionaire Mr (Daddy) Warbucks for Christmas and her life changes for ever, cue happy ending, though not without a few hitches along the way!
The stage set is simple but very effective, with the lighting being used to excellent effect to provide the drabness of the orphanage and contrast it with the brightness of Daddy Warbucks, and with a nod to the Art Deco period for the mansion. The costumes were incredible, from the drabness of the orphans and the homeless, to the 1930’s radio and film stars to the luxury of the party dresses for Annie’s party.
Last night Annie was played by Taziva-Faye Katsande and what a talented young lady she is, with the most stunning voice. Her performance of Tomorrow was superb. She was completely believable, whether she was in the orphanage or at Daddy Warbucks, a talent to watch out for in the future.
Anita Dobson plays Miss Hannigan to perfection, the audience hated her from the minute she walked on the stage! She is a drunken, child hating woman with an eye to the main chance and plays up to the audience beautifully. Her facial expressions are brilliant, she really shows what her character is thinking.
Alex Bourne is everything Daddy Warbucks should be, he oozes power but quickly shows his gentler more compassionate side as he gets to know Annie. He has a lovely voice and I particularly liked the duet with Annie Something was Missing.
Richard Meek as Rooster and Jenny Garner as Lily added the nastiness needed with their plan to defraud Daddy Warbucks. Jenny Garner was particularly believable as the gal with her eye on the main chance!
Last night the orphans were played by “Team Chrysler”, Orla McDonagh, Kacey Agwuegbo, Siena Austen, Drew Phoebe Hylton, Lyla Toplass and Fifi Bloomsbury-Khier, and what a team they were. A cracking performance from all of them, sheer exuberance and enjoyment flew from the stage. Their performance of Hard Knock Life and the reprise of You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile were outstanding.
The entire cast was fabulous and the choreography was stunning, the tap dancing, the performances in the mansion, the homeless, the radio programme, I was enthralled and loved it all! The live music just added to the whole experience.
So to sum up, this is a fabulous night out at the theatre, full of joie de vivre, with stunning music and choreography performed by an outstanding cast. I’ll certainly be going to see Annie again – now I know what I have been missing!