Annie has never been at the top of my list of favourite musicals. In fact, I’d even go as far to say that it used to be pretty near the bottom of the list! However, after last night’s trip to the Regent Theatre in Stoke on Trent to see the newest 2019 revival on the final leg of its UK tour, I have definitely changed my mind – it was absolutely fantastic and a real treat from start to finish! My 8 year old and I loved every minute of it!
N.B. We were gifted 2 free tickets by the Regent Theatre for the purpose of this review.
Set in New York during the Great Depression of the early 1930s, the story follows the plucky orphan Annie as she escapes from the clutches of the nasty Miss Hannigan in the state orphanage and eventually finds love and happiness in the arms of Oliver Warbucks, a billionaire. As with all good stories, Annie’s journey isn’t easy and Miss Hannigan tries to wreck her dreams, but Annie fights on with infectious optimism, continually believing that “the sun’ll come out tomorrow!”
This production is slick, fast-paced and full of energy with instantly recognisable toe-tapping songs and some truly outstanding performances. For me, the stars of the show were the children; their energy, enthusiasm and pure professionalism shone whenever they were on stage. As a Drama teacher my heart always swells to see such talented children obviously enjoying every minute of their performance and because of this, some moments of last night’s show actually brought a tear to my eye. Mia Lakha who played Annie has a wonderful voice and held her long notes impeccably. She brought a cuteness and warmth to the role and her scenes with Daddy Warbucks were truly heartwarming. Of the adults, Alex Bourne as Oliver Warbucks and Carolyn Maitland as Grace were superb and Lesley Joseph’s Miss Hannigan was suitably nasty, sarcastic and bitter. It’s not the first time she’s played the role and I hope that at the age of 74 I still have even half of the energy and passion that she shared with last night’s audience!
The set was based on a massive jigsaw puzzle, cleverly intended to be a metaphor for Annie’s journey as she tries to fit together the pieces of her life. The harsh reality of the Great Depression, highlighted in the “Hooverville” scenes, contrasted brilliantly with the bright lights, colours and magic of a night out in “N.Y.C” and Mr Warbucks’ mansion.
Nick Winston’s choreography was truly outstanding. It has a fresh modern feel but still reflects the Jazz Age effectively and was mesmerizing to watch.
I think what had previously put me off Annie were the saccharine, sentimental productions that I have seen in the past. This tour, although still filled with love and warmth, feels more gritty than other productions, giving it a raw realism and a modern fresh feel. Definitely a family-friendly production not to be missed!
You can catch Annie at the Regent Theatre in Stoke until Saturday 23rd November at 7:30pm with 2:30pm matinees on Wednesday 20th & Saturday 23rd. Ticket prices range from £13 to £50 and can be purchased in person at the Box Office, via phone by calling 0844 871 7649 or by visiting ATG’s website.
Where is the Regent Theatre?
The Regent Theatre can be found on Piccadilly in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP
Parking for the Regent Theatre
We recommend that you park on the John Street multi-storey car-park in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, which is opposite the Library and Police Station, next to the Court and in front of the Victoria Hall and just a short walk from the Regent. The postcode of the car-park is ST1 3BP and it costs £2.50 after 6pm or £3.30 for 3 hours before 6pm.
You can read about some of the other shows we’ve reviewed at The Regent here:
- Tom Gates Live On Stage Review
- Madagascar the Musical Review
- In The Night Garden…Live Review
- Horrible Histories – Awful Egyptians Review
- Nativity the Musical Review
- Regent Theatre Panto: Robin Hood
- Regent Theatre Panto: Sleeping Beauty