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Annie at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 31st May 2016 | View all blogs by Alison Smith

Poster Annie MKReviewed by Alison Smith 30th May 2016

This Annie is a polished production of the well-known musical of the orphaned 11-year-old, who finds security and happiness after years of living in squalor and misery. The musical is concerned, unfortunately, with circumstances which still exist almost 100 years later – the effect of poverty on people’s lives. There is a scene in a Hooverville, the 1920s American equivalent of a shanty town, inhabited by people who, because of economic disasters beyond their control, are penniless and starving. The exact details of the circumstances of Annie’s parents remain hidden, but it is to be imagined that theirs was the same as many fellow Americans; subsequent recessions have had the  same effects.

Paul Coltas Annie 1

Paul Coltas Annie 1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111image Paul Coltas

But this portrayal of 1930s America is not all doom and gloom – there is energy and optimism and ultimately this is a rags to riches tale. Orphan Annie, played by Anya Evans on the evening I saw the musical, dominated the stage and is a talent to watch; her dancing and singing were perfect.  Her orphanage friends (Molly, seven –year- old Andie Jordan must have a special mention) were Team Liberty and all excelled in their roles, portraying both vulnerability and strength. Their nemesis, Miss Hannigan, is brought to life by Lesley Joseph, who, apart from her accent, excels in the role of a  mean, drunken, self–centred harridan, who along with her detestable brother Rooster (Jonny Fines) and his sexy, lithe broad, Lily (Djalenga Scott) gratifyingly end up with their just deserts in the arms of the law. Oliver Warbucks is Hannigan’s ruination. Alex Bourne’s strength in this role is the care he takes of Annie (most notably when dancing) and in his imposing presence – this man must be trustworthy just through his height! The ensemble are lively; their roles are reminiscent of comic strip characters and with their delightful costumes and choreography exude exuberance and wit.

Paul Coltas Annie

Image Paul Coltas

The set design must be mentioned.  The design is simple – a map of NYC, hanging jigsaw puzzle pieces (Is it just Annie who is nie trying to fit the pieces of her life together11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 trying to fit the pieces of her life together?), moveable lights, gsaw puzzle pieces (  111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111beds and desks. The contrast between Hannigan’s squalid office, the orphanage dormitory and Warbucks’ gold , deco mansion office is marked. The orchestra is superb.  George Dyer’s interpretation of the well-known songs, notably Tomorrow and Easy Street is refreshing. My one negative comment is that at times the orchestra is so enthusiastic that it drowns the singers.

 This is a musical well worth seeing; the actors are talented, the production accomplished, and the direction exceptional.

Annie is at MK Theatre until Saturday 4th July

www.atgtickets.com

0844 8717652

Booking fee applies

 

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