Annie – *** Three Stars.

We all know the story of Annie the orphan, and we all know Miranda Harts’ Miranda-isms.  If you’re a fan of both, you will absolutely love this family show. 
 
Hart’s physical comedy makes us chuckle right from her first entrance as man hungry Miss Hannigan.  She seductively pounces on any male victim who accidentally enters her domain.  A trait the audience love to expect from Hart.  The orphans are very strong in unison with the cutest of moments coming from tiny Ellicia Simondwood (one of the three young actors playing Molly).
 
The story is driven with pace and clarity inside this proscenium arch lined, Matilda style, jigsaw piece set.  Which one can guess resembles all characters want to find their missing piece of life.  Using the orphaned girls and Sandy the stray Labradoodle to show how parallel stories are evolving, is a great touch by Director Nikolai Foster. 
 
Annie all too soon has her feet under the table of Daddy Warbucks’ estate.  The attention to character relationships is bypassed, leaving the show without compassion.  Annie is off to explore N.Y.C, and within this number it’s a treat to witness the strongest vocal by ensemble member Keisha Atwell. 
 
Stand out Holly Dale Spencer, holds the show together in her perfectly graceful delivery of Grace Farrell.  She captures every moment of Grace’s journey, and the candle Grace holds for Warbucks.  Spencer is sensitive yet beautiful in her goodbye with Annie.
 
Everyone is perfectly cast by Beth Eden and Debbie O’Brien, including the hilarious Hart.  Hart’s subtle additions give Hannigan a dimension of comic reality, but without a believable hatred for children, the power of villainous Hannigan leaves the show without an evil bite.

The simplistic set of depressed New York 1933 leaves a lot up to the imagination.  At times the stage feels empty, beautiful dressing of the stage but not much in the form of scenery.  Set wise, Annie is missing the ‘wow’ of a WestEnd family show.  The space though is stimulated and transformed by Nick Winstons creative choreography. 

Charming family entertainment, but this old tale falls short of today’s competitive West End.

Review by Chris Edgerley.

Booking now at the Piccadilly Theatre, London to 6 January 2018.  Box office 0844 871 7630  http://www.theatreperform.entstix.com

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