New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 15th June 2019.
Reviewed by Leanne Caplis
Direct from the West End the Annie UK Tour stops at Woking before continuing onto theatres around the UK until Nov 19 where it ends at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent.
Little Orphan Annie (Freya Yates) lives in a miserable orphanage run by the drunken Miss Hannigan (Craig Revel Horwood). Luck comes Annie’s way when Grace Farrell (Carolyn Maitland) chooses Annie to spend Christmas with Mr Warbucks (Alex Bourne) the billionaire.
From washing walls and scrubbing floors Annie finds herself visiting the Roxy, spending time with the President Franklin Roosevelt (Gary Davis) and having the time of her life but she still dreams of being re-united with her parents. Hannigan’s conniving brother Rooster (Richard Meek) and his accomplice Lily (Jenny Gayner) try to make that reunion happen so they can get their greedy mitts on Warkbuck’s cash, but Grace has her doubts and soon Annie is an orphan no more.
This production is a singing and dancing extravaganza from curtain up. With well known songs including Tomorrow, Hard Knock Life and Easy Street it is hard not to tap your feet along with the buzz of energy that is acted out before your eyes. The choreography is first class and together with very impressive staging I was mesmerised by the fast-paced movements of the whole cast who never missed a step.
For me the children are the stars of the show. Their rendition of Hard Knock Life blew me away. These young girls who can act, sing and dance without error are the future stars of our stages. Other stand-out cast members for me were Carolyn Maitland whose likeness to Grace in the original Annie film was uncanny and Jenny Gayner as Lily who danced Easy Street impeccably. A special mention for the adorable labradoodle whose occasional appearances on stage brought audible delight from the audience.
There did appear to be some sound issues. The loud radio announcements prior to curtain up did make for uncomfortable seating if, like me, you were early. Some of the cast members singing, on occasion, couldn’t be heard over the orchestra but as this was opening night I expect these will be ironed out for future productions and these should not detract from the overall brilliance.
If you are fan of musicals or the original Annie then this is a must see show and I bet your bottom dollar you won’t leave without a smile!