By guest author and Practically Perfect Grandma Jill Batt
The Bristol Hippodrome
31st August – 5th September 2015
A brand new production of the musical “ANNIE” starring Craig Revel Horwood as ‘Miss Hannigan’ visits The Bristol Hippodrome from Monday 31st August – Saturday 5th September 2015.
Craig Revel Horwood is probably best known as a judge on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing. His West End Theatre credits include: ‘Munkustrap’ in “Cats” at the New London Theatre, “Miss Saigon” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and ‘Harry’ in “Crazy for You” at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…
With its award-winning book and score, this new production includes old favourites ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ and ‘Tomorrow’.
The show opens with the orphans in bed in a Dickensian Orphanage. The room is framed by large pieces of jigsaw puzzle which are used metaphorically to show how Annie is trying to piece together her life in the tough New York of the 1930’s.
Costumes range from the very basic orphans’ clothing to the rich and elegant uniforms and clothes worn at Mr Warbuck’s mansion.
The story begins in a poignant way with Molly (Jessica Cartledge) crying for her mummy and I completely empathise with the hard life the orphans have but it soon evolves into an up-beat and humourous performance.
Although Miss Hannigan (Craig Revel Horwood) is unkind to the children, forcing them to work, they don’t seem defeated and give back plenty of cheek, causing her to constantly seek refuge in alcohol. Craig gives a strident rendition of “Little Girls”.
Annie is fortunate to be chosen by billionaire Mr Warbuck’s secretary Grace (Holly Dale Spencer) to stay with him in his mansion for Christmas. He becomes fond of Annie and tries to trace her long-lost parents by broadcasting on the radio and offering a $50,000 reward if they come forward. Of course a huge number of people try to get in on the act, including Miss Hannigan, her brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily (Jonny Fines and Djalenga Scott).
I don’t think I’d be giving too much away were I to suggest that there might even be a happy and uplifting ending!
Whilst the plot may not be terribly challenging, this is is an enjoyable show which is likely to appeal to children of all ages. My “Practically Perfect” grandchildren who’ve seen two film versions are extremely disappointed to have missed this stage show.
Craig Revel Horwood, in his stockings and impossibly high heels, gives a boisterous and amusing performance as Miss Hannigan.
Annie (played by Sophia Pettit) gives a stunning acting, singing and dancing performance, full of confidence and optimism backed by superb performances by the orphans.
Mr Warbucks has a strong singing voice, as does President Roosevelt and Grace has a very fine voice.
Additional interest is provided by the proficient tap dancing sequence by the sailors and girls and a four-legged member of the cast is played by the stray dog Sandy.
A great family show.
CAST AND CREDITS
“ANNIE” is directed by Nikolai Foster. Recently named as the new artistic director at Curve in Leicester; his most recent theatre credits include: “Calamity Jane”, “The Witches of Eastwick” and the 20th Anniversary production of Jonathan Harvey’s “Beautiful Thing” in the West End.
“ANNIE” has Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin and a Book by Thomas Meehan.
“ANNIE” is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian.
Monday 31st August – Saturday 5th September 2015
Evenings at 7.30 pm
Matinees on Wed & Sat @ 2.30 pm
Tickets: £15.00 – £47.50
Concessions available at certain performances
(CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD WILL NOT BE PERFORMING ON TUESDAY 1st OR WEDNESDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER 2015)
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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.