‘Annie’ at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Take an 8 year old, give her candyfloss, a reason to dress up and the most girl-friendly musical on the planet and what do you get? One extremely happy, sugar-frenzied Mudlet.
Annie the musical arrived at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, all artfully scuffed knees and orphan girl power, and the crowd loved it. The production was in New Theatre Oxford in December, and still stars Lesley Joseph (Birds of a Feather) as the horrific Miss Hannigan. Joseph doesn’t let her sliding – and often non-existant – New York accent get in the way of a very cheery performance, almost a little panto-ish. Her Miss Hannigan is more a creature of pity than evil, swigging from her bottle and being led a merry dance by the orphans at times.
But my eye was always drawn to her – she seemed to be having such a wonderful time in her wrinkly tights, jigging through the dance routines, and she had a strong voice too. Daddy Warbeck was played by Alex Bourne who I didn’t recognise, but has previously had the lead West End role in The Buddy Holly Story, and has also been nominated for an Olivier Award, so what do I know? (don’t answer).
There are three Annies rotating on this tour, and our Annie (not sure which one, it’s hard to tell!) played her part perfectly – not too cloying or supercute, more like a true, gruff tomboy, and like all the incredible stage kids who score national tours, she dances on a pin and hits all her notes like a total pro. All the children were strong in fact, and the ensemble danced and sang and hammed it up as only a musical cast can.
Is it my favourite musical? No, my heart belongs to Matilda, followed by Legally Blonde, 42nd St and Dirty Dancing, and I’m in no doubt that when I finally get to see The Book of Mormon it will trounce the lot of them. BUT Annie is very solid and funny in parts and performed with joy and energy and definitely worth the admission. Be warned: my 8 year old was so tired (and on her candy floss comedown) by the time we got home at 10.15pm that she went straight to bed still wearing her theatre clothes. The show goes on for over two hours so if you’re planning to take little ones the Saturday matinee may work better for you, but if your kids are anything like mine, it will be money well spent.
‘Annie’ is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 19 March. Book tickets