On Tuesday 20th August I had the pleasure of witnessing the colourful array of talent showcased at the Wales Millennium Cardiff when I went to see their newest production of Annie.
Straight from the West End theatre, based on the book by Thomas Meehan , the sweet story of orphan Annie was brought to life in front of me, it’s ability to remain an engaging and wonderful piece of theatre ever present. Annie is the tale of an orphan in search of finding her parents who is adopted by a billionaire in whom she eventually finds a guardian. The beautiful story of Annie with its undertones of comedy and mischief makes the economic horror of the Great Depression seem a song and dance…
Undoubtedly, the show could not have been so capturing if not for the talented cast. Mia Lakha stole the show with her beautiful voice and charisma, adding depth and humour to the character of Annie. I believe this was her debut and she truly took it in her stride!
However, Lakha was not the only young female talent on stage, as the entire cast of Mrs Hannigan‘s girls danced, sung and performed exceptionally, not just astonishingly for their age, but for me almost outshone even some of the more experienced adult actors. Their hilarious numbers, as well as the unforgiving mocking of cross-dressed Mrs Hannigan, had many of the audience around me chuckling in their seats and marvelling at their chaotic mischief.
Mrs Hannigan herself, played by Craig Revel Horwood, brought a panto-like humour to the stage, his hilarious distaste for the dancing girls around him and dire living conditions a joy to see played. However it could be argued that Horwood was in fact outshone by his “girls”, as whilst I found him very funny it was occasionally hard to make out exactly what he was saying, meaning some of his jokes were lost. Nevertheless, his brilliant appearance and celebrity status (thanks to his judging on Strictly Come dancing amongst other credits) meant that Mrs Hannigan was an absolute delight to watch.
My personal favourite couple of course were the show’s villains, Grace and Rooster, who received a hearty round of applause yet a good humoured “boo” at the end of the show for their naughty plotting against Annie. I felt that those two and Mrs Hannigan made a brilliant trio who were very funny and conniving characters onstage. It wouldn’t be fair to not mentioned the rest of the cast who played their part and delivered humorous performances.
Being my favourite type of onstage production, a musical, I of course cannot forget to mention the brilliant soundtrack. Orchestrations and musical supervisor George Dyer, an experienced musical director, educated at the University of Durham and Mountview Academy of Theatre arts, outdid himself by bringing the well-known songs we all love from Annie to the stage. The live orchestra performed spectacularly, in synchrony with the actors on stage giving the entire musical an extra flare. By the last song, not only had the whole cast received enthusiastic applause but so did the head of the orchestra himself, standing and bowing in acknowledgment and gratitude. The applause was well deserved.
My personal favourite song from the whole musical however was “Easy Street.” I found it very funny and charismatic and I can honestly say it’s been playing in my head ever since! The show ended not with this but with the famous number “Tomorrow” in which all of the cast sang and encouraged the audience to join in. It was a lovely way to end a spectacular show.
From what I could see, most of the audience were adults as this was an evening show, and whilst the musical is capturing for all ages, I felt that it was very well received by the audience. The jokes were funny and songs beautiful, choreography itself astonishing to watch. All of the cast could move and sing in synchrony, loud and vibrant and engaging, with a great variety of talent happening at once on the stage and I believe this talent impressed many of the audience members.
A well earned standing ovation was given at the end of the show, every audience member stood to applaud as the cast bowed. Not just this reaction of delight, but even tears were seen in the eyes of some of the audience members throughout the show when Annie sung her solo pieces. It touched all of us, I believe that this young girl could translate her emotion through her voice so easily, and many of us sat in awe at her powerful voice filling the large stage. By the end of the performance most of the audience who had risen to applaud were singing the famous songs with the cast, the noise in the playhouse deafening yet lovely as we all sang together.
Annie the musical was not a show that I had seen before and was not only beautiful and touching as the story of Annie always is, but was also brilliantly funny and enjoyable to watch. I believe that Sandy the dog, played by Amber the labradoodle, made the show for me with her brilliant onstage appearances that had each of us clutching our hearts. I would recommend this brilliant show to everyone! Credit to Michael Harrison and David Ian.
Annie runs from 19th – 31st August 2019 at the Donald Gordon Theatre, you can find tickets HERE.