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Review: Annie, at Piccadilly Theatre

Miranda Hart makes her West End debut as a boozy orphanage boss in production that features some sharp social commentary – and puts a smile on the faces of young theatre-goers

15 June, 2017 — By Angela Cobbinah

Miranda Hart in Annie. Photo: Paul Coltas

DATED it may be and always running the risk of descending into schmaltz but Annie manages to win hearts every time, and this latest revival is no exception.

The storyline is pure Hollywood – lovable kid is rescued from the cruel orphanage by lonely billionaire Daddy Warbucks (Alex Bourne). But Nikolai Foster’s production tries to inject some substance by placing the Great Depression at the centre of the action, propelling great standards like Hard Knock Life and Easy Street into the realms of social commentary. Then in a touch of magical realism, Annie’s signature song, Tomorrow, prompts Roosevelt to launch his New Deal programme, such is the resilience and optimism it conveys.

Making her West End debut Miranda Hart is a treat as the boozy orphanage boss Miss Hannigan as she puts her goofy persona to good use. Her singing and dancing may not be great, and her plummy voice kept intruding into her American accent, but her comic timing is on pointe. Hart’s biggest problem is that she is far too nice to be a real baddie.

Elsewhere, Bourne’s silvery tenor voice stands out amid a host of impressive vocals, while Nick Winston’s choreography is sparkling and tight throughout.

Of course, the real stars of the show are the seven-strong orphans team who can sing and dance with the best of them with mischievous abandon. On the night, Madeleine Haynes pulled out all the stops as the spirited Annie and, all in all, my seven-year-old co-reviewer left the theatre with a huge smile on her face.

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