Annie at the Bristol Hippodrome - Theatre Review
Posted on: 2019-03-20
A lively production that sounds and looks fabulous thanks to Daniel Griffin’s musical direction, Nick Winston’s innovative choreography and some cleverly constructed modern sets, this show is a great evening’s entertainment.
You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll have a fantastic time at The Bristol Hippodrome this week, as the unforgettable and well-loved tale of Annie has come to town. Full of catchy songs, cute kids and pantomime-style villains this heart-warming story is sure to melt even the hardest of hearts and leave audiences with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Annie is the tale of a red-haired orphan, who is forced to live a life of drudgery and despair in a downtown New York orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Annie’s luck changes for the better when she’s chosen to spend a fairy tale Christmas with billionaire philanthropist Oliver Warbucks. Very taken with the young girl and moved by her plight he offers to fund the search for Annie’s real family. However, spotting a way to make some cash, Miss Hannigan, her small-time gangster brother Rooster and his moll, Lily St. Regis, come up with a plan to kidnap the orphan and steal the money.
Full of high energy dance routines and memorable songs including the musical theatre classics Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow and boasting a cast of young stars, Annie has been a hit with audiences since arriving on Broadway in the 1970s and is still packing out theatres today. Anita Dobson of Eastenders fame takes on the role of the drunk and despicable Miss Hannigan. A seasoned theatre actress, she has a strong stage presence and shows off some pretty fine vocals, only slightly marred by a tendency to get just a bit ‘shouty’, which meant the audience wasn’t always sure what was being sung. For me there was also something lacking with her performance in the way of comedy. Miss Hannigan - at least since the latest revival - has been a fairly humorous villain, and on that front Dobson was somewhat disappointing.
This did little to detract from what is a lovely production as the supporting cast were charismatic and accomplished. Alex Bourne as work-obsessed Mr Warbucks, and Carolyn Maitland as his PA Grace Farrell were particular stand-outs.
The younger members of the cast though are the real stars, with the cast of orphans all being absolutely incredible. Each one gave a polished, professional performance as they let their character’s personality shine through. They (Team Empire State) were a pleasure to watch as they lit up the stage with their energy and amusing shenanigans.
As Annie, Freya Yates (one of 3 girls sharing the role during the tour) was superb; she has a fantastic voice and a natural comic talent that shone through. This was an assured performance from a charismatic young performer who is sure to go on to great things.
A lively production that sounds and looks fabulous thanks to Daniel Griffin’s musical direction, Nick Winston’s innovative choreography and some cleverly constructed modern sets, this show is a great evening’s entertainment. Those watching cannot fail to be charmed by little orphan Annie.
Sarah-Jane is an aficionado of film, theatre, culture and the arts. A voracious reader and avid crafter, she can be found volunteering her face painting talents at Bristol Zoo when she's not cementing her reputation as Coalpit Heath’s cake maker extraordinaire. Known to have an opinion on everything she’s never happier than when sharing these with the good folk of Bristol!