30 May to 4 June 2016
Reviewed by Louise Platt
Last night the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre was transformed into New York in the 1930s and the cast of Annie took to the stage to perform director Nikolai Foster’s version of this popular musical which is currently on tour in the UK.
I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Annie and the original version of the film which I’ve watched too many times to count. So I was really looking forward to seeing the stage adaptation and I was not disappointed.
This stage show is a delight. All the popular songs are there and the plot is close enough to the original film but with a few twists to keep you on your toes. The set is really impressive. It has a jigsaw design which is a metaphor for Annie’s attempt to piece her life together which she almost does at the end when the two parts of her locket are reunited. However in this version the crooks do not manage to get away with Annie as the FBI exposes their real identities before they are able to do so. So a bleak beginning for little orphan Annie ends with true happiness and belonging as she is finally adopted by Daddy Warbucks.
In this version we are reminded throughout how important it is to be positive even when things can look bleak and it is this optimistic attitude which shines out of Annie throughout and endears her to Mr Warbucks and lots of his associates including the American President. It also serves as a reminder that you can do anything if you put your mind to it which is one of the main underlying messages of the story for me.
There are many highlights in this production. The cast of girls playing the orphans are exceptional. Their choreography, timing and voices are all excellent. There are three actresses who share the role of Annie and last night it was Anya Evans who dazzled us with her performance in the lead role. Lesley Joseph was extremely convincing and entertaining as Miss Hannigan and I also really enjoyed Johnny Fine and Djalenga Scott’s renditions of Rooster and Lily. Sandy is even played by a real dog which was a lovely touch. The entire cast were brilliant and really captured our imagination from start to finish. The sets, the costumes, the choreography and the music all combine to create a truly wonderful show which does what all brilliant theatre should – transports you a million miles away from your own life and provides a couple of hours of pure entertainment and escapism.
This was an evening performance but there were a lot of children there last night (including my eight year old daughter), which is testament to the show’s appeal to people young and old.
The theatre at Milton Keynes is a brilliant venue. It is modern, comfortable and well laid out so you can get a good view of the stage from anywhere in the auditorium. I like the fact that the seats are staggered so my daughter did not need a booster seat to have a good view. We always enjoy a drink from the theatre bar before we go in and we pre ordered our interval drinks last night which are laid out waiting for you – which is so much easier than having to queue up. I can also recommend the ice cream which my daughter persuaded me to treat her to!
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable evening and highly recommended show!
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £47.50 (booking fees may apply).
Annie is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 4 June 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ