Based on the cartoon strip Little Orphan Annie this musical for all the family tells a Depression-era rags-to-riches story of an eleven-year-old orphan who yearns to escape from the orphanage run by the mean-spirited Miss Hannigan. When Daddy Warbucks decides to adopt Annie, her dream comes true! Featuring the classic songs It's The Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street and Tomorrow.
The musical Annie has book by Thomas Meehan adapted from the comic strip 'Little Orphan Annie' with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.
PLEASE NOTE: This is about the American musical based on the U.S. strip-cartoon, 'Little Orphan Annie' - not to be confused with an earlier 1967 British musical also called Annie by Alan Thornhill with music by William L Reed which was staged at London's Westminster Theatre (now rebuilt and named The Other Place) and opened on 27 July 1967 and closed on 9 December 1967. Starring Margaret Burton, Angela Richards and Gerald Hely, this bio-musical was based on the real-life events about Annie Jaeger who run a hat and drapery shop in Stockport, in Lancashire, North-East England, before becoming a moral and social reformer in the 1930's in East London - culminating in going to the United States shortly before the start of the war and taking part in the Moral Rearmament Movement.
Original London West End Production - Annie the Musical 1978
Previewed 25 April 1978, Opened 3 May 1978, Closed 28 November 1981 at the Victoria Palace Theatre
Returned 20 December 1982, Closed 12 February 1983 at the Adelphi Theatre
The hit family musical returns to London for a strictly limited holday season as part of a regional tour.
This production came into London's West End as part of its regional tour which started immediately following its closure at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1981. Once it finally closed on 12 February 1983, this production had played 1,550 performances.
The cast at the Adelphi Theatre features Amanda Louise Woodford as 'Annie', Ursula Smith as 'Miss Hannigan' and Charles West as 'Daddy Warbucks'. Directed by Martin Charnin with choreography by Peter Gennaro and designs by David Mitchell. The original cast included Andrea McArdle as 'Annie', Sheila Hancock as 'Miss Hannigan' and Stratford Johns as 'Daddy Warbucks'.
"Annie, the biggest American musical of recent years, came to London last night, displaying a full hand of charm, sentiment, crowd-pleasing children and a scene-stealing shaggy dog. How can it miss? Based on the U.S. strip-cartoon, 'Little Orphan Annie,' the show does for the little girls what Oliver! did for little boys... [The] sustained optimistic tone provides a clue to the show's immense popularity in the US: turning its back on current rock trends, Annie is a deliberate throwback to the opulent, melodic musicals of the past. It is certainly spectacular. As Annie trudges the streets of Depression America, David Mitchell's towering sets of Manhattan skyscrapers and bridges slide awesomely across the wide stage of the Victoria Palace... The score, by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin is apt rather than inspired. I didn't hear a hit song... Sheila Hancock, running the orphanage with a permanent hangover, holds her own well against the crowd-grabbing little girls... Bald as Kojak, Stratford Johns humanises the role of Warbucks with a voice of unexpected truth and sweetness... See Annie. It's pure magic." The Daily Express
"I had not expected to like Annie. I had anticipated, frankly, a Niagara of sentiment. But the secret of this show's unequivocal success is that it artfully waits until the last reel before tampering with tear ducts. For most of its length it relies on the energy, attack and split-second expertise that are the stock-in-trade of the American musical... What matters, however, is the strip cartoon speed with which Thomas Meehan's book, Charles Strouse's music and Martin Charnin's lyrics and direction keep the action hurtling from one episode to the next... Charles Strouse also comes up with a sucession of tunes that have an easy, cheerful hummability. I particularly liked the aggressive drive of It's The Hard-Knock Life which the orphans mutinously render, the jazzy echoes of Easy Street and the tiptoe charm of I Don't Need Anything But You which the portly Warbucks sings to Annie. There is nothing here of the tough, complex durability of Sondheim but first-time round all the songs have a melodic freshness... Annie may not be one of the great American musicals. But it does what it sets out to do with dexterity, wit and old fashioned transatlantic attack." The Guardian
Annie the Musical in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 25 April 1978, opened on 3 May 1978 and closed on 28 November 1981, returned to London at the Adelphi Theatre on 20 December 1982 and closed on 12 February 1983
1st London West End Revival - Annie the Musical 1998
Previewed 22 September 1998, Opened 30 September 1998, Closed 28 February 1999 at the Victoria Palace Theatre
The Family Musical! The 21st Anniversary Production! Annie in London starring Lesley Joseph and Kevin Colson
21 years ago Annie opened on Broadway, the following year it opened at the Victoria Palace, London where it enjoyed a hugely successful run. Now after 20 years Annie returns home!
EXTRA PERFORMANCE BY PUBLIC DEMAND! On the show's last day, Sunday 28 February 1999, there will be an extra matinee performance at 12noon, this is in addition to the regular 4.00pm performance.
The role of Miss Hannigan was played by Lesley Joseph from Tuesday 22 September to Sunday 29 November 1998 and from Tuesday 9 to Sunday 28 February 1999; by Jenny Logan from Tuesday 1 to Sunday 13 December 1998; and by Lily Savage (Paul O'Grady) from Tuesday 15 December 1998 to Sunday 7 February 1999. The role of Mr Warbucks was played by Kevin Colson throughout the run. Directed by Martin Charnin. Kevin Colson's West End theatre credits include the role of the 'Father' in the musical Children of Eden at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1991.
The musical Annie premiered in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre when it previewed from 25 April 1978, opened on 3 May 1978 and closed, after 1,493 performances on 28 November 1981 when it went it started a major UK regional tour - returning to London for a Christmas season at the Adelphi Theatre from 20 December 1982 to 12 February 1983.
"You remember the story about little orphan Annie who, with hope in her heart, escapes her New York orphanage, meets Sandy the stray dog and gets adopted for Christmas by kind Daddy Warbucks, a billionaire. Of course, two-and-a-half hours of cutesy children and animals set in the Depression brings to mind Noel Coward's line: "Oh for an hour of Herod." But this quality revival of the 1979 Broadway long-runner is superbly directed by its lyricist Martin Charnin. It's funny how Annie's theme song Tomorrow (the show's one hit) sounds like the Nazi anthem from Cabaret. I admit I spent the first act imagining the fun you could have chucking bits of steak at the stage whenever the dog comes on. But cynics will be disappointed. The show is fast, lavish and does what it does with real comic style. Kenneth Foy's Manhattan back drops are glorious. And Lesley Joseph, that fine trouper with a face like a can opener, has a ball as Miss Hannigan, the crooked soak who runs the orphanage. The hugely experienced Kevin Colson - looking like Kojak - miraculously maintains his dignity as a superb Daddy Warbucks. Kiddies in the audience will thrill to the sight of plucky L'il Annie, played last night by redhead Charlene Barton, a regular little Shirley Temple. A vat of shameless syrup, I lapped it up. In the West End race for the big Christmas outing, Annie moves into poll position." The Daily Express
"This beautifully staged revival of the 1970s American musical that rivals peaches and cream for unadulterated wholesomeness proves the age of innocence is alive and well. Who would have dreamed in these suspicious times that a song and dance affair about the intense relations between an elderly bachelor billionaire and the 11-year-old orphan girl he wants to adopt would still go down like the sweetest ice-cream treat? But then Annie disarms cynics and sophisticates with fairy-tale winsomeness. It's a seductive little-girls-nightout of a musical, harking back to the days when billionaires were just as good as gold. Charles Strouse's brassy, not very tuneful music and Martin Charnin's lyrics for Annie are no more memorable than a foggy evening. The optimistic thrust of Tomorrow is the only song with a real future. Yet Annie's lack of tunes does not stop it from spreading a lot of juvenile happiness. And Charnin's own production revels in fairy-tale escapism, wistful humour and clever little girls on stage. Kenneth Foy's imposing sets slide down and sideways on stage with their pictorial back-cloths and visions of New York in the 1930s depression. The grim Manhattan orphanage where Lesley Joseph's sex-starved, alcoholic wardress melodramatically struts, gives way to the billionaire's mansion, stuffed with Picassos and servants. This is a musical which keeps reminding you of how the Manhattan worlds of deprivation and opulence existed within nudging distance of each other in the depression: Annie's first escape is to a company of down and outs in a precarious waste land. The infant charm and interest of the musical depends not just on Annie's quest to discover her parents, but also on the way it keeps artfully shifting between these opposed societies. The tiny orphanage tots, who look no older than five or six, do a terrific, expert pastiche of the professional dancing singers who perform at the NBC radio studio where they sing in nice period tones about "the toothpaste of the stars to make your teeth Hollywood white". Charlene Barton's self-possessed Annie is just as much at home with Franklin Roosevelt in the White House as the orphanage. The brusque billionaire, Oliver Warbucks who enables Annie to make her escape journey strikes me as a rather murky character. A bullet-headed Kevin Colson plays and sings him with dour charmlessness and no touch of wit. There's not even a contemporary Clintonesque edge to his remark: "Find out what Democrats eat." Having indulged his whim of helping an orphan and invited Annie for Christmas at his mansion, Warbucks then becomes quite besotted with her. He speaks of loneliness. They sing, dance and hold each other, delighted to be together, in a way which ought to initiate more censorious action than raising of eyebrows. True though to the dictates of musical romancing, the villainous plan to deprive Annie of her billionaire fails. Charlene Barton who is not the best of child-singers I have heard, maintains an air of easy confidence, and passes impressively from stoicism to joy. Martin Charnin fires his energetic production with the right dancing and singing exuberance, tartly subduing the most glycerine excesses. Only the musical's Republican, smearing travesty of Roosevelt strikes a repellent wrong note. My right eye wept continually - conjunctivitis actually - but even so I was not uncharmed." The London Evening Standard
"It should be the soppiest, most sentimental musical that even that renowned sugar-processing plant, Broadway, has produced. After all, ponder the plot. Li'l orphan Annie, the seraph with the all-red curls and the all-rose philosophy, is rescued from New York's nastiest orphanage by Oliver Warbucks, a zillionaire so powerful that Presidents rush from Washington to his Yuletide parties. Not only does he end up adopting her and her bashful mutt: under her 11-year-old influence he joins FDR in a rousing chorus of "a New Deal for Christmas". Yuk. Order ten gross of sickbags. Bring on Sondheim, bring on Herod, bring on anyone likely to take a tough view of savvy tots and rich men bearing gifts. Yet, sap that I was, I enjoyed Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin's musical when it first hit London 20 years ago, and, sap that I still must be, I enjoyed its latest revival. As directed by Charnin it has fizz, it has sophistication, and it has its tongue firmly in its cheek. Mark you, it still tests a sceptic's patience. On the one hand, Kevin Colson's Warbucks is the ruthless tycoon who snaps: "You don't have to be nice to people you meet on the way up if you're not coming back down again." On the other, he must be the loveable face of capitalism, a man so susceptible to moppet charisma that he sings "The world is my oyster but where was the pearl? Who dreamed I could find it in one little girl?" Similarly with Roosevelt, who is discovered in wheelchair and White House musing on the hopelessness of things. A brush with optimistic Annie, and not only is he formulating ways of ending the Depression but he and his Cabinet are chorusing that tomorrow, tomorrow, we love you tomorrow, tomorrow is only a day away. It is awful and yet, with Peter Harding wickedly mimicking the FDR vowels as he babbles on about the only thing to fear being fear itself, it is also very funny. Annie is a musical that tugs at your heartstrings, then plays loonie tunes on them. There are genuinely witty, knowing lines and there is even a bit of bite as Annie escapes from the orphanage to one of those shanty-towns that sprouted in America in the early 1930s. Even if the place's denizens are a mite too clean, they bring plenty of ironic energy to that splendid song, "We'd like to thank you, Mr Hoover". There is a nice parody of a TV show, and there is a hilarious performance by Lesley Joseph as the orphanage wardress, who plots with her sinister, smirking brother to murder Charlene Barton's sweet and surprisingly uncloying Annie and get her mitts on Warbucks's loot. Joseph's looks are surreal: bleached, angular face like some desert animal's skull, rouged cheeks, black hair sprouting as from a burst mattress. But when she grins or cackles or smarms or falls prostrate before FDR or reaches for one of the bourbon bottles she keeps hidden in her horrible green office, she might be auditioning for a role in a Dickens epic. Can you dismiss Annie as cute pap when such a one is playing the villain? No." The Times
"Mums went absent this week. Still, a cat may look at a king and an orphan can talk to a president. Little Orphan Annie, cartoon strip heroine of the New York Depression, is back on the London stage in lyricist Martin Charnin's 21st anniversary production. And as President Roosevelt says from his wheelchair, she is just the sort of person a president should have around the White House. Unlike some we could mention. Annie advocates chin up, look tomorrow in the face and the sun will shine. She brokers FDR's New Deal by being her little goodhearted self and the White House staff break into close harmony. If only politics could always be that simple. And clean. Annie is given a tough and wellsung performance by Charlene Barton, but the show was stolen on the first night by a cheeky six year-old, Chloe Watson, as the smallest and most delightful of the straggle-haired orphans. Charnin's bright lyrics, Charles Strouse's catchy, melodic music and Thomas Meehan's clever old fashioned libretto all provide the sort of musical theatre evening they really don't write any more. There is even a dog to drool over. Lesley Joseph as the bourbon-swigging Miss Hannigan, who runs the municipal orphanage, is a Dickensian nightmare out of Golders Green and she plays outrageously to the gallery. Luckily I sat in the stalls. Andrew Kennedy as her low-life brother tries to cash in on Annie's good luck. Kevin Colson is the bald, rich industrialist, Warbucks, whose heart is melted by the orphan he takes home for Christmas." The Daily Mail
The musical Annie in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 22 September 1998, opened on 30 September 1998 and closed on 28 February 1999
2nd London West End Revival - Annie the Musical 2017
Previewed 23 May 2017, Opened 5 June 2017, Closed 18 February 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre
The original West End revival cast featured Miranda Hart as 'Miss Hannigan' (up to 17 September 2017) along with Alex Bourne as 'Daddy Warbucks', Holly Dale Spencer as 'Grace Farrell', Jonny Fines as 'Rooster' and Djalenga Scott as 'Lily'. Craig Revel Horwood played 'Miss Hannigan' from Monday 18 September through to Sunday 26 November 2017 with Meera Syal taking over the role from Monday 27 November 2017 through to Sunday 18 February 2018. Directed by Nikolai Foster with choreography by Nick Winston, designs by Colin Richmond, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound by Richard Brooker.
Nikolai Foster's West End credits include Richard Greenberg stage adaptation of Truman Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's starring Pixie Lott at the Haymarket Theatre in 2016 and the stage version of Flashdance the Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2011.
When this production opened here at the Piccadilly Theatre in June 2017, Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed how it is "slickly staged, buoyantly performed, motored by cracking musical set pieces and an expert mixture of naivety, whimsy and wit, it puts a smile on your face and a tear in your eye... Miranda Hart gets top billing, but really it's a colourful cameo. The show is the star. And its mixture of open-heartedness, wit and pizzazz enables the little orphan inside us all to see off our enemies." Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised it as being "bright and brash and thoroughly old-fashioned, with songs you can go home singing... Director Nikolai Foster maintains a lively pace while Nick Winston's choreography makes effective use of the girls' anarchic energy and gets 6ft 1in Miranda to kick up her heels with the best of them." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times said that "Nikolai Foster's production is smart, vivacious and boasts eye-catching casting in the shape of television favourite Miranda Hart as the gin-guzzling orphanage boss, Miss Hannigan... She's not nasty enough to offer any real sense of peril to proceedings, but she does bring an entertaining blasé quality to the character, as if even being bad was a bit too much effort." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph noted how the show offers "the spectacle of Miranda Hart, queen of the feelgood British sitcom, making her West End (and musical) debut in a role outside her comfort zone - horrible NYC orphanage manageress Miss Hannigan. OK, so she's no Imelda Staunton, but singing and hoofing, she's a triumph," adding that in "Nikolai Foster's stylish revival... choreographer Nick Winston ensures the two-hour shebang is as nimble-footed as its (superior) West End rival Matilda" Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail highlighted that "the cast of girls here are certainly full of beans but director Nikolai Foster and his sound engineer have over-amplified them. Their nasal squawking is impossible to understand," noting that "many will buy tickets simply to see Miranda Hart. She does her usual routine: big-boned goofiness with lots of eye bulging. Her singing is really remarkably bad: a coyote yowl. And yet it is impossible to dislike her." Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that Miranda Hart "works hard, and sings and dances capably, but it's difficult to accept her as an accomplice, as the role demands, to abduction and possible murder." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard admitted that "Miranda Hart is the big draw in this bright revival of the much-loved and family-friendly Seventies musical... she brings a fruity vigour and eccentricity to the part, and her rapport with the audience is warm. But vocally she has real limitations, and it's not easy to accept this essentially goofy performer as someone who'd contemplate getting mixed up in abduction and murder," adding that "the show itself feels creaky. Charles Strouse's score and Martin Charnin's lyrics have a catchy charm. But while director Nikolai Foster conjures the atmosphere of the Thirties, he can't mask the thin characterisation in Thomas Meehan's script."
"An optimistic red-headed orphan, a fluffy dog called Sandy, a cold-hearted billionaire - it can only be Annie. In depression-gripped New York of 1933 none has it harder than orphans terrorised by gin-swilling, blousy Miss Hannigan - Miranda Hart. The enthusiasm she throws at her ultra-camp turn - in her West End debut - compensates for her wobbly American accent. Due to their tender years, three young actresses take on the lead role... Yes, there's schmaltz but it's all tempered with wit, and a fine performance from Alex Bourne as billionaire Daddy Warbucks. With some brilliantly choreographed numbers, cute kids, and plenty of laughs - this slick, snappy show should pack in the crowds." The Sunday Mirror
"Like other cartoon-inspired musicals such as Snoopy, Superman and Andy Capp the plot is wafer-thin but there is ample compensation in Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin's jaunty score. The current revival is led by Miranda Hart, making her West End debut as the orphanage's matron Miss Hannigan. She acquits herself well, abandoning her popular TV persona to play a drunken, slatternly bully - albeit one with great comic timing. While no Ethel Merman, she puts across her two songs stylishly but her dancing leaves much to be desired. Hart is well supported by Alex Bourne as Warbucks, although only Albert Finney in the film has given the character the necessary edge. Holly Dale Spencer as Warbucks's secretary and Jonny Fines and Djalenga Scott as two confidence tricksters make notable contributions. The children are delightful but their diction is so poor it is impossible to make out many of their lyrics. Nikolai Foster's workmanlike production pales by comparison with other recent revivals, such as An American In Paris and 42nd Street. Nick Winston's choreography is formulaic and Colin Richmond's jigsaw-like set looks cheap, a particular incongruity in the case of Warbucks's Fifth Avenue mansion." The Sunday Express
"The problem with Miranda Hart is that it's impossible not to like her. Even as Miss Hannigan, the child-hating, tyrannical ruler of an orphanage in Depression-era New York, every gesture - from swigs of gin to the seductive poses struck whenever a man walks into the room - suggests incurable romantic. Actually she's more lovable than likeable... Loving Hart for what the big-eyed and big-boned star does best - generally being the supremely talented comedy actress that won the nation's hearts with her eponymous sitcom. Singing, however, is not her forte. So Nikolai Foster's production of Charles Strouse's Broadway classic has to look elsewhere for musical talent. Specifically at Jonny Fines as Hannigan's weasel-like brother and Annie herself the courageous foundling who spends Christmas with billionaire businessman Warbucks (Alex Bourne). Young Annie sings this show's best known song Tomorrow with such optimism it inspires President Roosevelt to cure the country of Depression with his job-creating New Deal scheme. God knows London needs a feel-good show. And no doubt Hart's fans will come flocking. But there are just too many false notes struck by this dated musical, not least Warbuck's somewhat icky proposal to adopt 11-year-old Annie, for which he almost goes down on one knee. These days Annie might be better off with Hannigan." The London Metro
"Miranda's the business in her stage debut as the panto baddie Miss Hannigan, presiding over a New York orphanage in a grubby dressing gown and a rather becoming curly bob of maroon hair with terrible white roots showing. But she's nothing like nasty enough, because she - and Hart never disappears behind Hannigan - clearly wants everyone to love her... She's the big Hart at the heart of this corny old musical, swilling gin with hilarious insouciance, hitting on every man unfortunate enough to drop by, always either squiffy or nursing a hangover, and blowing a whistle like a demented PE mistress... The show is unrepentantly, shamelessly, tooth-rottingly schmaltzy. There isn't just one irrepressibly stoical urchin keeping her chin up but a whole tribe of tatty, plucky infants dancing up a storm - and even a darling dog, Sandy, who saves Annie's bacon when he runs to her when called and licks her face. Aah! Nikolai Foster's shrill, hyperactive, well-drilled production, infinitely more ear-piercing than soul-piercing, ultimately pulverises one into beaming submission. And its Hart is definitely in the right place." The Mail on Sunday
Annie in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 23 May 2017, opened on 5 June 2017 and closed on 18 February 2018.