Annie, Piccadilly Theatre, review: ‘Miranda Hart is a force of nature on stage’
- Credit: Archant
It’s taken two years for Nikolai Foster’s production of Annie to transfer from Leicester’s Curve to the West End. It’s a pity it wasn’t sooner.
It’s taken two years for Nikolai Foster’s production of Annie to transfer from Leicester’s Curve to the West End. It’s a pity it wasn’t sooner. Set during 1930s depression America, the show’s message of defiant optimism in the face of economic hardship could not have come at a better time.
Against a backdrop of a disorientating map of some indefinable section of Manhattan, Foster presents Annie’s orphanage as a microcosm of displacement, an island of lost souls in a sea of lost people. The balance between the sweetness of Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s hugely popular score and the darker social issues is handled with a canny touch: ragged costumes proclaim injustice but the jazz-hands magic wins out. Desperation isn’t confined to the streets of Hoovervilles or the girls in the orphanage.
Miss Hannigan – here played by comedy star Miranda Hart - is in the tradition of the desperate Dame and Hart revels in the tragi-comedy of Hannigan’s unfortunate sexual advances to every man who crosses the threshold. This is Hart’s first role in a West End musical and she’s a force of nature on stage. While her singing voice is sketchy - she shouts and growls her numbers rather than sings - given Hannigan’s love of gin, it works. Her sleazy rendition of ‘Easy Street’ accompanied by con-man brother Rooster (Jonny Fines - mesmerizing) is a highlight. Hart’s comic timing is often superbly understated. When PA Grace (wonderful support from Holly Dale Spencer) announces the billionaire Warbucks (Alex Bourne) wants to adopt Annie, Hart knocks back half a bottle of gin, assesses the result, murmurs ‘no’ to herself and continues drinking. On press night Madeleine Haynes was a flawless Annie.
Bourne is an immensely likeable Warbucks, though the character’s turnaround is swift. The satirical scene in the recording studio has some bite but it’s far from troubling.
You may also want to watch:
With a billionaire saviour, the story dates. But Annie’s defiant pulse underscores every moment. While we may not have a cheerful Roosevelt heralding a new dawn, the show’s best-known number - ‘Tomorrow’ – truly raises the spirits.
- 1 Kacem Mokrane: Islington man amongst seven charged with 2017 murder
- 2 Man in Highbury court charged with shooting gun in High Holborn
- 3 Council fund boosts plans for Islington 'urban forest'
- 4 Tony Eastlake: Man denies murder of ‘flower man of Islington’
- 5 Islington community charity launches with sunny street party
- 6 Missing teenagers from Dagenham may be in Islington or Haringey
- 7 Mem and Laz Brasserie voted as readers' favourite restaurant
- 8 Parliament Square demo: Protesters call on government to end cladding crisis
- 9 'Islington drivers – you don't always need to overtake cyclists'
- 10 Jeremy Corbyn joins campaign to protect human right Article 25