Sunday, September 24

Annie – Liverpool Empire

This timeless classic is about Annie who’s a confident, fiery 11 girl waiting for her parents to come rescue her from Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Set in the 1930’s during the Great Depression Annie’s optimism shines through when she’s chosen to spend Christmas with famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Of course, Annie is delighted to spend time away from scrubbing the floors and sets out to search for her real family. Knowing there’s a $50,000 reward to find Annie’s real parents, Miss Hannigan hatches a plan with her crony brother to reap the benefits. 

Any musical that you recognise the songs from without having seen it before shows that it’s iconic.

My foot was tapping along with the orphan girls polished rendition of ‘It’s the hard knock life’, if you’ll pardon the pun. This was quickly followed by Annie singing ‘Tomorrow’. Showing that the younger cast are equally as strong as their adult counterparts. Zoe Akinyosade portrays a charming Annie and is consistent throughout as the title character. Her vocals were strong and captivated the audience with each song she sung. The audience clapped and cheered at the end of all songs, which is testament to enjoying this revival of a beloved musical.

Sadly, the city of Liverpool were excited to flood the theatres to see Paul O’Grady on stage until his unfortunate passing a few months ago. He would have been a delight to have been seen gracing the stage again. However, I was delighted that the biggest cheer was given to Craig Revel-Horwood as villainous Miss Hannigan who you love to hate. A role that was a perfect match for the grumpy persona we all know him for from being a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

You could tell the actors enjoy being on the stage in front of a live audience each night. How could they not? A musical that despite set in the 1930’s brings such joy and optimism to the stage.

Two of the most iconic songs within the first 20 minutes of the show and yet it maintained an entertaining and captivating pace from start to finish.

One of my highlights was the ensemble showing their range of talent. From good old fashioned jazz hand choreography to upbeat and energetic tap dancing parts, Nick Winston did a fantastic job at the choreography.

Their costumes varied from oversized scruffy clothes for the orphan girls, setting the initial gloominess to the piece. To the bright and iconic Annie red coat which later contrasted the tough time, but how things were beginning to look up. Mr Warbucks’ Christmas party scene again utilised the talented ensemble with formal attire and elegant gowns bringing a joyful tone to the stage. Colin Richmond was both the costume and set designer for this revival. Whilst the staging was fairly basic, with jigsaw pieces floating at the top and side of the stage giving depth. These pieces were brought to life in certain scenes with the lights highlighting them and making them seem magical for the second half of the show. This made Mr Warbucks and Annie’s adoration for each other shine through with the lighting design.

Backed by a live orchestra the musical director was Joshua Griffith and the musical supervisor was George Dyer who helped maintain a strong tone throughout.

My only let down of the show was where was the dog? I hope it’s back very soon as I’m sure it would have been a crowd pleaser as Annie’s furry sidekick.

A true highlight was the cast inviting the audience at the end of the bows to join in with a rendition of ‘Tomorrow’ the sound that filled the theatre brought smiles to everyone’s faces. You can bet your bottom dollar that everyone of all ages will enjoy this family musical!

Annie The Musical is currently touring the UK and playing till the 10th June at Liverpool Empire

Reviewer: Emma Lambe

Reviewed: 5th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.