The smash hit production of Annie – produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian and starring Craig Revel-Horwood – has finally arrived in Oxford’s New Theatre, the poster for which has been a feature of my morning commute since show drew closer, so I couldn’t help but subconsciously count down the days. I must admit I’m a big fan of Annie, to the point where as a child I watched the film so many times I wore out the tape in the VHS – since then of course, there have been a few remakes and spin-offs, but I think you always love what you saw first and almost have a loyalty to your favourite. For me, the newer ones don’t really live up the original but to my delight, this performance definitely did.
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…
From start to finish, the show was full of energy, and each and every one of the children delivered the cheeky attitude and confidence so iconic to the residents of Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Paired with perfectly executed choreography, it was just constant fun. Rooster – my favourite character – was perfectly evil, sleazy, and unhinged, manipulatively coaxing his sister down his dark path to easy street. This trio’s scenes (Rooster, Grace, and Miss Hannigan) were especially captivating. They radiate a certain gritty, dirty glamour and watching them felt just as Broadway as NYC.
With its award-winning book and score, this stunning production includes the unforgettable songs ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ and ‘Tomorrow’.
Annie has Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin and a Book by Thomas Meehan. It is directed by Nikolai Foster with set and costume design by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Richard Brooker.
Annie will be at New Theatre Oxford until 22 April. Do yourself a favour and go and see it – you’ll be streaming the soundtrack for days after just to get a little more.