The UK Tour of Annie starring Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan is a refreshing revamp of a classic musical.
Taking inspiration from the current child-focused musicals currently in the West End, Annie has a contemporary feel which is enhanced by the staging and costumes. The stage is covered in brightly coloured jigsaw pieces which create a map of New York, giving a similar vibe to the Matilda set. With a visually stunning set designed by Colin Richmond, he has mirrored that in his costume design. Whilst the costumes reflect the period in which the musical is set in 1933, he uses vibrant colours to visually modernise the atheistic of the production.
The iconic songs are also given a new lease of life with remarkable choreography by Nick Winston, the movement is sharp, current and dynamic. Hard Knock Life has feisty strength, similarly the Hooverville choreography had the necessary aggression and energy. A particular highlight is N.Y.C, a whirlwind number that takes us through the streets of New York, it is pacy and sublimely choreographed, with an exceptional tap section.
Miss Hannigan drunkly staggers around the stage, her short tempered and conniving nature is captured excellently by Lesley Joseph. Her sarcastic tone is marvellously funny, especially during her number Little Girls. Her relationship with her scheming criminal brother Rooster (Jonny Fines) and his girlfriend Lily St Regis (Djalenga Scott) is executed incredibly as their wit and humour bounces off each other. Their song Easy Street showcases the smooth masterly vocals of Fines and the flexibility and sensuality of Scott.
Elise Blake plays the highly energetic role of Annie, she is an extraordinary young actor with an impressive lungs as she belts out songs such as Tomorrow, which are vocally faultless. She plays the role with a gutsy nature yet manages to sustain a balance between the strength and confidence required without over-powering the role, she encapsulates the audience exquisitely.
Her relationship with Daddy Warbucks played by Callum Mcardle sparks a sense of emotion throughout the show, Mcardle’s paternal characterisation is spot on. He manages to show convincing affection towards Annie without appearing over-bearing, something which I’ve seen a lot in previous productions. Mcardle’s solo Something Was Missing is a touching moment in the show and he captures the emotion sensationally. Equally Holly Dale Spencer who plays Warbucks’ secretary Grace Farrell has beautiful vocals that particularly highlight her spectacular upper register. She provides a heart-warming maternal character that stands up for Annie, as the show progresses the picture of a real family is created.
The children create an astounding amount of passion and enthusiasm, they are utterly professional and their talent is phenomenal. Molly played by Andie Jordan is incredibly sweet and awes echo around the audience every time she steps on stage. The children are highly impressive however Kya Davis stood out and shone as Pepper, my eyes were constantly drawn to her passion, energy and dedication to the role.
Annie is an uplifting production bursting with colour and vitality with explosive energy from the ensemble. Created with expressive staging and animated choreography, it is a musical that will make you laugh, cry and everything in-between.
Annie is on at the Wolverhampton Grand theatre until Saturday the 9th of April and tickets are available here.