Annie @ Royal Concert Hall

With a set that resembled a gigantic jigsaw puzzle covered in a map of New York city, Lesley Joseph and boundless energy from every single cast member, what more could an audience member ask for in this wonderful revival of Annie?

The musical, set in 1930’s New York tells the tale of Annie, an orphan who was abandoned at the horrible Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Along with her fellow orphans, she suffers a ‘Hard Knock Life’, constantly attempting to escape the confines of Miss Hannigan’s evil rule, before being whisked away by the billionaire Mr Warbucks (Alex Bourne), who wishes to host an orphan in his house for Christmas. Cue a plot for financial reward, conspiracy in the unlikeliest places and a singing President of the USA; summing up the plot of the production in a nutshell.

The political undertones to the musical were a lasting element. Featuring the unemployed and homeless in a shanty town, references to poverty and financial ruin, and President Roosevelt’s Congress, the performance was deeply invested in the actual story of the 1930’s following the Wall Street Crash.

“A triple threat, with an aptitude for dog training, Blake is certainly one to watch, and will be gracing our stage more over the coming years”

The stars of the show were undoubtedly the immensely talented girls playing the orphans. With three groups of girls rotating the parts, all of whom are under 12 years old, Team Rockefeller’s performances were outstanding. Culminating in a passionate ‘Hard Knock Life’, their rendition of the well-known song was the highlight of the show, complete with skilfully executed dance moves, endless energy and spot-on singing. Standouts among Team Rockefeller were Chloe Bowes and Natasha Raphael, whose comic performances lit up the stage. Similarly, Elise Blake as a straight-talking and talented Annie was simply brilliant. As the production’s director, Nikolai Foster stated, approximately 2000 girls auditioned for the role of Annie, so the three girls sharing the part must be something special – a fact which Blake indeed proved tonight. A triple threat, with an aptitude for dog training, Blake is certainly one to watch, and will be gracing our stage more over the coming years. Amber as Sandy the dog also deserves a mention, causing a fantastic reaction in the audience, especially from the younger members, and impressing everyone with her immaculate behaviour and treat eating skills!

“This is a role Ms. Joseph must have been born to play”

The high quality performances from each cast member makes it difficult to single out those for particular praise, but a special mention must go to Lesley Joseph’s Miss Hannigan. Embodying the bitter, gin-drinking orphanage proprietor perfectly, with the song and dance moves to match, this is a role Ms. Joseph must have been born to play she does it so well!

The singing and dancing of the production were tightly choreographed and executed to perfection, every member of the cast seamlessly creating an ensemble that worked together to great effect and produced a dazzling show.

The lighting, live orchestral music and set all worked together to add atmosphere and emotion to the musical, various puzzle pieces lighting up at certain points during the production to emphasise words and shapes. Colin Richmond’s set also provides an apt metaphor for Annie’s desire to piece her life and past together, and find her long lost family.


Amy Wilcockson

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