So funny story, I’ve never actually had an interest in Annie. I knew the premise, I knew the songs, and it just… never appealed to me. Then the 2014 version came out with Quvenzhane Wallis and I realised there’s far more depth to it than I first thought. So, the Hippodrome press night came about and I found myself accepting tickets*.
What is Annie about?
Annie centres around a little orphan named Annie, whose orphanage is run by the mean Mrs Hannigan. Suddenly, things begin to change as she is selected to temporarily live with a cold-hearted millionaire, Mr Warbucks. Trouble, bonding and some real heartwarming songs ensue.
Like I said, I have no real interest in Annie. So, I was ready for a fun show but apart from that I had no expectations. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it may be my favourite thing that I’ve watched at the Hippodrome. It was heartwarming, it was beautifully paced, and the cast may be one of the best I have seen.
Obviously, everyone that makes it into a West End/touring West End production is unbelievably talented. However, there was something about the cast of the Annie production that really stood out to me. Everyone: from the children, to the ensemble, to of course Annie herself was so in sync, and deeply in character and it made the show come alive. I could not fault anybody in that cast, but some stand outs include:
Carolyn Maitland as Grace
Maitland was one of the first things my plus one and I talked about the second the lights went on at the interval. Grace, as a character, has some really high songs, and Maitland sang with such strength, making it all seem effortless. She was dynamic, engaging and graceful and I could not fault her. An absolute joy to watch.
Richard Meek as Rooster
Meek managed to balance the sleeze and the comedy incredibly well. His songs were strong, his dancing was great, and he perfectly embodied the character – a great portrayal of a villain.
Ava Smith as Annie
They have 3 different girls playing Annie on different nights (Which makes sense, because they’re kids and it’s a demanding role), so I didn’t actually see the Annie pictured in this post. I saw Ava Smith, who was absolutely amazing. She was charasmatic, strong and an absolutely fantastic lead. I stared in awe the whole time, because I couldn’t believe how amazingly she did.
Amber as Sandy the dog
I had absolutely no idea going in that there was going to be a real life dog on stage!!! There was a real dog!!! And she was so well behaved!!! Sandy made me smile so much. 5 stars for Sandy.
What a cast of strong singers. What a cast of great dancers. If you can’t already tell how much I loved this version of Annie, let me just say that I loved it once more. Favourite songs included:
The Hard Knock Life
THESE CHILDREN ARE SO TALENTED. The choreography was brilliant (Shout out to Nick Winston), but it was by no means easy, and the children absolutely smashed it. They were flawless and had so much character and I will never be as talented as them. So impressed.
We’d like to thank you, Herbert Hoover
I do not recall ever hearing this song before. Also, I don’t think I know another musical that has a song that’s purely just chorus members and no main characters, but I absolutely loved this. Every member of the chorus had the same strength as the main characters and it made this song so enjoyable.
We’ve established that my only real memory of Annie before this was the recent movie. This song was not in the movie (I think it was kind of replaced by ‘The City’s Yours’?) I love ‘The City’s Yours’ but this was just such a classic showtune. Plus, Grace and Daddy Warbucks (Played by Alex Bourne) did such a great rendition of it. Also, it was a heavy chorus number, and I’m in love with the way this chorus work together.
I cannot recommend this enough.
Going into this month, I would not have told you that Annie would be the musical that wowed me. But I am so in awe of everyone involved in this production. If you can get to one of the touring venues, please go and see it. It will warm your heart and make you smile and give you goosebumps. This cast deserves all the praise in the world. You can find out the remaining tour dates and grab yourself some tickets here.
Have you seen Annie? Do you plan on it? Let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,
This post is not sponsored. However, I was invited to the press night, which involved receiving a complimentary ticket to watch this performance. This does not affect the integrity of my review in any way though. If you would like to read more about my work with brands, you can do so here.