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Review: Annie at the Wales Millennium Centre

Review: Annie at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff {Cardiff Theatre/Shows/Things to Do}

thelittlecardiffblog wales millennium centre theatre review cardiff

When I stepped into the Wales Millennium Centre on my way to see Annie, it was the busiest and most bustling I'd ever experienced it! As a musical running during school holidays with children leading the cast, it was to be expected I suppose. I've heard of the musical and film from years ago (have never seen either!) and know it's an award-winning a smash hit, but I didn't know it was still as popular as this! 

Set in the 1930s, Annie is the story of an 11 year old girl living in an orphanage in New York. It's not the nicest of places, to say the least - she and the other orphans are scrubbing the floors all the time, surviving on 'hot mush' for every meal and worst of all, have to put up with a horrendous guardian who should definitely not be in charge of looking after one child, never mind a whole troupe of them. 

annie the musical uk theatre review 2019

Craig Revel Horwood was unrecognisable transformed into the man-hungry, evil Miss Hannigan, the orphanage owner who revels in making the girls' lives as miserable as possible. I thought he was hilarious and for me his performance (think panto villain but with an edge) will be the most memorable of the show. He can sing, act and dance - I had no idea he was so talented! You completely forgot it was the Strictly Come Dancing Judge on stage and completely bought into his portrayal of a devilish alcoholic who is devoid of any morals and basically a real lost cause.

As the story develops, Annie manages to escape the orphanage when she is picked to spend two weeks with local billionaire "Daddy" Warbucks, played by Alex Bourne. Bourne was another stand out for me. He played the part so well, I found his performance felt very effortless and moving. Carolyn Maitland oozed warmth and loveliness as his personal assistant Grace and also stood out for her vocals - what a beautiful, faultless voice!

annie the musical uk theatre review 2019

Three young actresses alternate as the title role of Annie. On our night, the plucky heroine was played by Mia Lakha. She was so sweet and lovable in the role, we kept commenting constantly about how cute she was, full of smiles and an infectious positive outlook. Lakha played Annie perfectly with bundles of feisty confidence and endless optimism. Her performances of "Maybe" and 'Tomorrow'  conveyed real emotion and you fell in love with her more and more as the show goes on.

All of "The Orphans" (played by members of The Chrysler Company on the night) gave a tremendous performance and lit up the room with their stage presence. I don't like having to say anything negative, but I did find the younger cast members' singing voices rather shouty and shrill, so for me this was a bit distracting - I couldn't make out a lot of the words in their songs. They were all super talented and I don't want to be critical about kids ears hurt a little bit at points! But I guess that's what you get when there are so many youngsters in a cast and it didn't detract from the overall impact of the songs, 'It's a Hard Knock Life' was still my favourite.

annie the musical uk theatre review 2019

Choreography was fabulous and they were all such brilliant dancers. The ensemble gave stellar performances as well (favourite scene with the board meeting with the President when everyone breaks out into song). Jenny Gayner and Richard Meek as Lily and Rooster made me feel angry whenever they came on the screen - they definitely nailed it as the 'baddies', I absolutely despised them, real 'love to hate' characters!

I'd highly recommend you take the little ones along for this cheery production with themes of friendship, family and resilience; it's a captivating show which would serve them well as their first introduction to musical theatre. The plot is simple enough for a young audience to follow, with lively musical numbers ensuring they won't get bored. There are also enough wit and subtle undertones of humour aimed at a mature audience which will make sure you won't get bored either. Annie is a really solid, well-put together musical and I can now see why it's so beloved all over the world.

annie the musical uk theatre review 2019

You can catch Annie in Cardiff up until 31st August 2019 at the WMC, some tickets still available hereTour dates for the other locations can be viewed here.

(*Tickets provided in return for review on press night)


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