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Annie | New Wimbledon Theatre

Annie, directed by Nikolai Foster and featuring Tony Award-winning book by Thomas Meehan, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and score by Charles Strouse, brings a beloved classic film to life. Set against the backdrop of the great depression, following the Wall Street Crash in 1933, this enduring tale centres on a plucky orphan named Annie who lives in a harsh orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Annie's life takes an unexpected turn when she's invited to spend the holiday season at the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Throughout her journey, Annie's unwavering optimism and kindness impact not only Mr Warbucks but also the lives of the people she encounters. Known for its iconic songs and its enduring message of hope and resilience, Annie remains a timeless and cherished piece of musical theatre classic.

Under the skillful musical direction of Joshua Griffith, the production's iconic songs are a highlight, evoking both nostalgia and childhood delight. From the well-loved ‘Tomorrow’ to the heartfelt ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ the musical numbers are beautifully performed and underscore the show's enduring appeal. The strength of the production lies in the children's ensemble, whose energy and playfulness are infectious. They excel in numbers such as ‘It's a Hard Knock Life’ and ‘You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’, illuminating the stage with youthful exuberance, confidence and a dash of whimsy. This ensemble of young people were fiercely passionate, full of personality and character.

In a bold and intriguing choice, household name Craig Revel-Horwood (Strictly Come Dancing) takes on the role of Miss Hannigan, cross-dressing without veering into camp or pantomime territory. Revel-Horwood's nuanced acting brings depth to the character, allowing the audience to see Miss Hannigan as more than just a caricature. Harlie Barthram, portraying the titular role of Annie, embodies the character's optimistic and hopeful spirit with grace and enthusiasm. Olivier Award and TMA nominee Alex Bourne's Mr Warbucks delivers a solid performance, balancing the gruff exterior with the character's softer side. The presence of adorable Labradoodle Sandy (played by Amber) on stage steals the hearts of the audience, but it occasionally diverts attention from the talented performers.

Colin Richmond's set and costume design deserve praise for seamlessly blending bleak reality with fairy-tale elements. The jigsaw motif adds a whimsical touch, while the costumes infuse flair into the characters and the overall aesthetics. Ben Cracknell's beautiful lighting design enhances the mood and atmosphere of each scene, providing a visually captivating experience.The ensemble's choreography, under the direction of Nick Winston, is dynamic and energetic, bringing vibrancy to the musical numbers and making the production entertaining and visually captivating.

The show is sprinkled with references that place the audience in the right historical period. These details include quotes like Roosevelt's "The only thing to fear is fear itself,", famous artworks like The Mona Lisa, and even the Broadway show that the characters are enjoying. Despite its charms, the show seems to be missing heart and soul at times. Some lines were delivered without the necessary intent, and a few performances felt rather mechanical. Uneven pacing and occasional awkward transitions disrupt the narrative flow, occasionally distancing the audience from the story. Furthermore, microphone issues during this specific performance affected the overall experience as the dialogue became challenging to hear.

Given the large number of child actors in the show, including those playing Annie, it would have been useful to post a cast list in the foyer. This would help the audience identify the performers on a given night and appreciate the variety of talent within the cast.

Overall, Annie is a joyful production to remember. It's wholesome, genuinely heart-warming and filled with some of the most iconic tunes that is sure to leave you humming them long after you leave the theatre.Tomorrow will always be a day away but if you're in search of a classic musical, this one is definitely for you; get your tickets today for an enjoyable time at the theatre. 

Annie plays at the New Wimblebon Theatre until 11th November. For more information and tickets, follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | Photography from New Wimbledon Theatre 


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