Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Annie - Lowry Theatre, Salford

Book: Thomas Meehan
Music: Charles Strouse
Lyrics: Martin Charnin
Director/Chreographer: Roger Hannah
Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe

There is a growth of revivals of child friendly family musicals at the moment, with Oliver doing great business again in the West End the time seems right to bring Annie back to the stage, but Chris Moreno’s production although enjoyable just seems to lack the wow factor that would make it five star theatrical hit.

Annie based on a cartoon strip from the 1920’s during America’s prohibition, proved ideal source material for a musical, with enough political impact, villains and charming characters to make sure it appealed to a vast number of people.

Ask anyone apart from Annie what character do you like, most will reply Miss Hannigan, the drunken orphanage owner who would rather make sure the kids stay in the orphanage so she can get money from the state than let them find a family, reviving a role which she has played on numerous occasions is entertainment veteran Su Pollard. Pollard’s performance was polished and well performed but one felt let down slightly by her paint by numbers approach to the role, bringing nothing new or interesting to the character something which this reviewer has seen her do in numerous shows before.

At this press performance Annie was played by Ellen Gallagher, and although she was mic’d up to an extent where she was far too loud, her performance was highly believable as the red haired powerhouse orphan and a great on stage chemistry was clearly evident when she shared the stage with David McAlister (Daddy Warbucks) who gave the show plenty of energy and charisma as the hardened millionaire. Chris Molloy brought plenty of laughs to the stage as Warbuks’ buttler Drake.

The set by Alan Miller Bunford felt cheap and although there were some excellent ideas it just fell short of the money. Roger Hannah’s choreography & direction was first class with excellent use of stage space, which really brought the show to life.

My biggest bug bear with touring productions like this is to get all the child performers from stage schools such as Stagecoach, when scattered around the local area are many youth theatres with children that would kill for a chance to perform in a professional production. Producers it’s time to start taking some risks on children who cant afford the termly fee of such place and may actually bring some character to the stage than little replica’s of Bonnie Langford.

Annie runs at the Lowry until Sat 1st August
frontpage hit counter