Annie – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By @Steve Crabtree, April 2019
Since its first showing on Broadway 42 years ago, Annie has been a staple part of the stage musical scene. It’s an old-favourite with the young, old and in-between. And if you’ve never seen the film or the musical before, you’re in a group of not very many.
Me? I’m firmly sat in that minority group. I’ve never watched either, so it’s a whole new thing for me. But at by my side at Bradford Alhambra for this one is a self-confessed Annie-holic. She knows every word of the film, its songs and she says she might as well be cast in tonight’s show! She also assures me that I’ll love Annie too.
“Mayhem and mischief”
There was an excited feel around the theatre as the audience shuffled in. And just before the lights went down, the orphans appeared and climbed in to their beds that were there on stage. The set-up was great. Robust, subtly creative scenery with a West End standard to boot.
And as the show began, it was the fantastic Team Chrysler actors who were playing the orphans and they provided us with laughs through their mayhem and mischief. Their singing and timing when dancing was remarkable too. They performed ‘Hard Knock Life’ early on in act one, and their choreography was pretty impressive.
“Vulnerable, tough and sweet”
So, if you’re like me and you’ve never seen Annie, she was left on the doorstep of the orphanage eleven on new years eve, 1922. She came with half a locket and a note from her parents telling her that they loved her, had kept the other half of the locket, and one day they’d come back and get her.
She’d clung on to the belief that they’d return, but we’re now 11 years on. The other orphans and orphanage warden cruelly ridicule her about it.
Tonight the lead role was wonderfully played by Taziva-Faye Katsande. She played the vulnerable, tough, and sweet Annie to perfection. We, the audience, warmed to her instantly. She also brings a special beaming grin to the role that lights up the stage as brightly as the lighting.
As Annie gets transported to a life of how the other half live, we meet Mr Warbucks. Played by Alex Bourne, Wexler at first seems a not-so-nice guy who has no time for Annie. However, he quickly warms to her and it’s not long before he wants to adopt her. It’s here where the story takes a few turns. The chemistry between Bourne and Katsande was a perfect fit for the production.
“Loveable, eccentric baddie”
And what a perfect choice for the role of orphanage warden Miss Hannigan in Anita Dobson. The gin swigging, edgy but lovable, eccentric baddie; Dobson gave the character some hilarious mannerisms. She’s a great singer but this performance was all about the comedic moments.
I didn’t realise what an upbeat and happy story Annie was. The audience, made up of a lot of families and groups of children, loved the show. There was applause at the end of every number, and lots of laughter in every scene.
Sandy the dog, played by Amber, stole the cheers a number of times too when she wandered on and across stage. Her appearance was a perfect final part of the Annie jigsaw, which delivered the feel-good family favourite that it’s renowned to be.
If your kids are still home for the half-term holidays, Annie is a perfect show to treat them. And my friend wasn’t wrong either. I came away from the Alhambra loving the show.