The King's Theatre, Glasgow
29 May 2023
The 1982 film Annie was one of my childhood favourites. The story of young orphan Annie, set in 1930s New York, was a window into a whole new world for me. It was my first exposure to Tim Curry, Ann Reinking, Carol Burnett and Albert Finney - actors I still consider amongst the all-time greats today.
I wanted to live with Daddy Warbucks (didn't we all?) and I was in awe of Annie's trip to Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes so much so that I made a visit to their Christmas Spectacular a key part of my honeymoon.
As in the film, when we first meet Annie on stage she is living a life of hardship and misery at the hands of Miss Hannigan in her New York orphanage. The set is excellent, and the orchestra led by Joshua Griffith is a joy! Right from the start the music is rousing and engaging.
The orphans are played by three teams of six young actors on rotation, and there are three alternating Annie's. For opening night in Glasgow we had Harlie Barthram as Annie and she was exceptional. Her confidence and stage presence, her projection and her singing voice, her comic timing - all remarkable. I'm sure most reviewers are kind about child performers but Harlie is the real deal. Her performance here is worthy of any professional actor.
The beginning of Act I is set in the orphanage and we are treated to familiar songs such as 'Maybe' and 'Tomorrow'. Harlie's voice is impressive in both; there's something really moving about seeing a tiny little girl stand alone, under a spotlight on a massive stage and hit every note.
'It's the Hard Knock Life' was one of the highlight's of Act I for me and the number where all the orphans voices came together in strongest harmony.
We get to know Miss Hannigan better in 'Little Girls' - her hatred for little girls and her love of alcohol not the ideal mix for an orphanage matron! In Glasgow we have the fabulous Elaine C Smith bringing Miss Hannigan to life, and as always Elaine gives her all to the character who, although awful, must be a lot of fun to play. It was lovely to peak underneath the mask and see Elaine and the kids being so warm with each other in the bows.
When Annie is chosen to spend Christmas with billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Alex Bourne), her luck and her life changes. The gorgeous Grace Farrell (Amelia Adams), secretary to the legendary billionaire, comes to the orphanage and whisks Annie away to a house so grand she asks if it's the train station.
This is the start of a few glorious ensemble dance numbers 'I think I'm gonna like it here' and 'NYC' full of dazzling costumes and sheer musical theatre joy.
When Miss Hannigan's brother Rooster (Paul French) and his latest squeeze Lily (Billie-Kay) arrive at the orphanage, the dastardly trio hatch a plan to destroy Annie's dreams and wreck Mr Warbucks' plans.
'Easy Street' is a brilliant number and Paul French's charisma as Rooster makes him the perfect villain we love to hate. Thank goodness there is a reprise of 'Easy Steet' later in the show. Once is not enough to appreciate the catchy tune, the clever choreography, the sass!
We didn't have a Sandy (the dog) in the performance I saw and I was greatly disappointed. There was no mention at all of Sandy (except for in the programme) so if you didn't know to expect a dog side-kick, you wouldn't realise that you were missing anything. As with human actors, I can only assume the dog actors are dealing with health or personal issues, and I wish them well. But I can't help but wonder what was cut? What did I miss!? Some magic, certainly.
Annie the musical boasts an award-winning score (played live by an enthusiastic and skilled orchestra), a great book, gorgeous costumes and set, and a truly excellent cast. There is something to keep theatre-goers of all ages entertained and with a relatively short run time (2 hours 20 minutes, including a 20 minute interval) it's a heart-warming story for the whole family to enjoy.
📸 Production photos: Paul Coltas
Annie plays at The King's Theatre, Glasgow Mon 29 May - Sat 3 June 2023
🎟️ UK Tour dates and tickets
🌟 A review of Annie the musical, UK tour, at Glasgow King's Theatre, May 2023 🌟
Disclaimer: *I was invited to review this show by ATG Glasgow. I received a comp ticket in exchange for my Instagram content and blog review. Whether I am gifted a ticket or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings!
📸 Follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram for more photos and videos.
📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com