The West End production of Annie has opened at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, and we couldn't wait to see this take on the beloved film.
A show that hardly needs introduction, Annie follows its titular character in 1930s New York amid the Great Depression, where she reluctantly resides at Miss Hannigan's orphanage. Annie's luck begins to change when she gets the opportunity to spend Christmas with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, but Miss Hannigan isn't likely to let her jump into her fairytale so easily.
This show stars Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood as the tyrannical Miss Hannigan, as well as a real dog to play Annie's dog Sandy, played by eight year old labradoodle Amber. She truly stole every scene she featured in, whether it was during big numbers like "Tomorrow", or simply running across the stage during a set change to remind us she is still there. Amber, plus the incredible ensemble of child actors who played the orphans set this show up to be the incredible performance it was.
A tremendous cast with bucket loads of talent
Sharangi Gnanavarathan who played Annie is a tremendous talent, with a voice that carried throughout the theatre. That this was her professional debut was not at all evident in the performance she gave as the spunky Annie, and serious kudos are due for someone so young to have such a presence on stage. On that, the children at the orphanage were a synchronised and animated ensemble with bucket loads of talent that paints a bright future for their show biz careers.
If you have read any of my theatre reviews, you'll know I have a soft spot for the villains of the story, and Annie is no exception. Horwood's Miss Hannigan was as hilarious as she was unhinged, a truly original depiction of the character we've all come to know and love/hate. If we didn't know better, we'd almost have thought those little bottles of gin actually were filled with alcohol, so good was Horwood's tipsy portrayal. During the final bows, it was Miss Hannigan coming out that had everyone on their feet for a standing ovation.
Special shoutout to Miss Hannigan's slimy brother Rooster, played by Paul French, who threw everything into this role, evident from the heebie jeebies you get every time he appears on the stage (or mimics a pig's oink).
An undeniably nostalgic soundtrack
The music has an electric kind of energy that elicits thunderous applause before you even realise you are clapping your hands together. Songs like "Little Girls", "It's The Hard-Knock Life", and "Tomorrow" provoke undeniable nostalgia in anyone over a certain age, and it becomes increasingly difficult to not sing along.
Choosing a favourite song from this musical isn't easy and it's a credit that there are so many incredible numbers to choose from. However, I think I'd have to opt for "Easy Street" as performed by Miss Hannigan, Rooster, and Lily St Regis given how hyped I got at the sound of its reprisal.
Would I recommend going to Annie at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre?
My answer to this is probably clear from my review, but if you are able to attend any of the Annie showings, I highly implore you to do so. Annie is a story that transcends time, and has the power to capture the love of everyone, no matter your age.
Annie is showing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until September 3rd. You can purchase tickets HERE.
Header image via Instagram / Bord Gais Energy Theatre