By: Suzanne Cleave, TRP Reviewer
If you are looking for a fab-u-lous night out, Annie at Theatre Royal Plymouth is a five-star treat for all the family.
Set in New York during the Great Depression, we are introduced to Annie and the other girls in the ramshackle orphanage, run by the harsh and irresponsible Miss Hannigan. After a foiled escape, Annie’s dreams come true when billionaire Mr Warbucks sends his assistant to the orphanage to announce that he wants to give one of the orphans a two-week break at his residence over Christmas.
With a bit of gentle persuasion, the red-headed Annie is chosen and soon her life transforms from scrubbing floors and making beds to attending Broadway shows and having servants tend to her every need.
Although a temporary arrangement for Warbucks, Annie’s presence gradually softens the straight-talking businessman, and he declares he will do anything he can to find Annie’s biological parents. It seems Annie’s optimistic way of thinking rubs off on those around her, including the President of the United States (who also makes an appearance!).
But as soon as Warbucks offers a $50,000 dollar reward for their discovery, Miss Hannigan’s brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily set to work on a plan to get their hands on the cash – and Annie!
Annie has been a family favourite ever since it first appeared on Broadway in 1977 and later through films on the big screen. This magical interpretation follows the same path and is a joy to watch.
The casting is amazing, and everyone gives a faultless performance. The ensemble is a riot of colour with perfectly polished dance routines that cannot fail to raise a smile.
Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood dazzles in the role of Miss Hannigan. We know he can dance, but his vocals are also top notch.
He sashays across the stage, bottle of gin in hand, and transforms the character of Miss Hannigan from a mean villain into a loveable rogue.
The role of Annie is shared by three talented young actors, and on the opening night, the audience was treated to a fantastic performance by Zoe Akinyosade in the lead role. For such a young actor, she kept the audience spellbound as she belted out hits such as Maybe, Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow.
The other actors playing the young orphans were equally as wonderful, with their energetic dance routines and brilliant facial expressions.
Other stand out performances came from Alex Bourne as Mr Warbucks, who realises there is more to life than work, and Amelia Adams who plays Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ assistant. A review of Annie cannot be complete without mention of Sandy, the adorable Labradoodle, who drew many aaahhhhs from the audience!
There are many, many highlights throughout the production, but Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lily’s rendition of Easy Street is just brilliant. The final number of Tomorrow, when all the cast come together is also a wonderful finale.
Everything from the set and costumes to the top-notch choreography make this production of Annie unmissable. The timeless tale of rags to riches is uplifting and heart-warming and I easily could watch it all over again.