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.
Annie the Musical has book by Thomas Meehan, adapted from Harold Gray's comic strip 'Little Orphan Annie', with music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Martin Charnin.
The sequel, Annie Warbucks, written by the same creative team, has not been presented in London's West End.
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, 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 1978
Previewed 25 April 1978, Opened 3 May 1978, Closed 28 November 1981 at the Victoria Palace Theatre
The original cast featured Sheila Hancock as 'Miss Hannigan', Stratford Johns as 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks', Kenneth Nelson as 'Rooster Hannigan', Clovissa Newcombe as 'Lily St Regis', Judith Paris as 'Grace Farrell', Damon Sanders as Franklin D Roosevelt', and Andrea McArdle, Ann Marie Gwatkin, Christine Hyland, Rosa Michelle, Anne O'Rourke, and Jacinta Whyte shared the role of 'Annie', with Sue Aldred as 'Annette', Beatrice Aston as 'Sophie, the Kettle'/'Mrs Pugh'/'Frances Perkins', Jay Denyer as 'Drake', Harry Ditson as 'Bundles McCloskey'/'Harold Ickes'/'Justice Brandeis', Brian Ellis as 'Fred McCracken'/'Louis Howe', Edward Harbour as 'NBC Page'/'Marine Guard', Colette Hiller as 'Cecille', Richard Manuel as 'Jimmy Johnson'/'Henry Morgenthau', Andy Mulligan as 'Lt Ward', Lynne Williamson as 'Mrs Greer', Matt Zimmerman as 'Bert Healy'/'Cordell Hull', and Gerry Tebbutt. Other actresses who played the lead role of 'Annie' during the run included Jackie Ekers, Suzie Kemeys, Susie Lee-Hayward, Kerry McDevitt, Vanessa Smart, Tracy Taylor, and Helen Thorne.
The role of 'Miss Hannigan' was played by Sheila Hancock from Tuesday 25 April 1978 to Saturday 21 July 1979; by Maria Charles from Monday 23 July 1979 to Saturday 10 May 1980; and by Stella Moray from Monday 12 May 1980 to Saturday 28 November 1981, when the show closed.
The role of 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks' was played by Stratford Johns from Tuesday 25 April 1978 to Saturday 4 August 1979; and by Charles West from Monday 6 August 1979 to Saturday 28 November 1981, when the show closed.
Directed by Martin Charnin, with choreography by Peter Gennaro, sets by David Mitchell, costumes by Theoni V Aldredge, and lighting by Richard Pilbrow.
The first preview on Tuesday 25 April 1978 was a Royal Charity Gala attended by Princess Margaret in aid of the Royal Court Theatre Society. The second preview on Wednesday 26 April 1978 was a Royal Charity Gala attended by Princess Alexandra in aid of the Church of England's Children's Society, and Elizabeth Fitzroy Homes for the Mentally Handicapped. The last preview on Tuesday 2 May 1978 was a Royal Charity Gala attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, President of the National Playing Fields Association.
Having played the title role on opening night on Broadway 21 April 1977, Andrea McArdle repeated her performance on the opening night in London.
This production closed after 7 preview performances and 1,485 regular performances, playing an eight performance-a-week schedule: Monday to Saturday evenings, with Wednesday and Saturday afternoon matinees.
"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 in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 25 April 1978, opened on 3 May 1978, and closed on 28 November 1981
1st West End London Revival 1982
Opened 20 December 1982, Closed 12 February 1983 at the Adelphi Theatre
The cast featured Ursula Smith as 'Miss Hannigan', Charles West as 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks', Neil Fitzwilliam as 'Rooster Hannigan', Petra Siniawski as 'Lily St Regis', Lorrain Grey as 'Grace Farrell', Peter Honri as 'Franklin D Roosevelt', and Amanda Louise Woodford as 'Annie', with Jonathan Dennis as 'Fred McCracken', Peter Edbrook as 'Lt Ward', Carrie Ellis as 'Mrs Greer', Susie Fenwick as 'Cecille', Jody Hall as 'Harold Ickes'/'Justice Brandeis', Amanda Prior as 'Annette', Richard Ratcliffe as 'Drake', Jean Reeve as 'Sophie the Kettle'/'Mrs Pugh'/'Frances Perkins', Tony Rickell as 'Jimmy Johnson'/'Louis Howe', Kevin Scott as 'Bert Healy'/'Cordell Hull', John Waldon as 'NBC Page'/'Marine Guard', and Emlyn Wynne as 'Bundles McCloskey'/'Henry Morgenthau'.
Directed by Peter Walker, from the original Martin Charnin, with choreography by Peter Gennaro, sets by David Mitchell, costumes by Theoni V Aldredge, and lighting by Spike Gaden, from the original by Richard Pilbrow.
This was the first post-West End regional tour which came into the West End for a strictly limited Christmas holiday season before continuing its tour.
This production played an eight performance-a-week schedule: Monday to Saturday evenings, with Thursday and Saturday afternoon matinees.
2nd West End London Revival 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
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!
The original cast featured Lesley Joseph as 'Miss Hannigan', Kevin Colson as 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks', Andrew Kennedy as 'Rooster Hannigan', Gail Marie Shapter as 'Lily St Regis', Kate Normington as 'Grace Farrell', Peter Harding as 'Franklin D Roosevelt', and Charlene Barton and Sophie McShera shared the role of 'Annie', with David Alder as 'Drake'/'Jimmy Johnson', David Bacon as 'Lt Ward'/'Henry Morgenthau'/'Justice Brandeis', Andrew Bradley as 'Bundles McCloskey'/'Cordell Hull', Geraldine Feeney as 'Mrs Greer', Rachel Izen as 'Sophie the Kettle'/'Mrs Pugh'/'Frances Perkins', Marc Joseph as 'Marine Guard', Louisa McCarthy as 'Cecille', Neil Rutherford as 'Fred McCracken'/'Harold Ickes', Louise Tomkins as 'Annette', Matt Zimmerman as 'Bert Healy'/'Louis Howe', Susie Fenwick, and Simone White.
Directed by Martin Charnin, with choreography by Peter Gennaro and Jennifer Neuland, sets by Kenneth Foy, costumes by Theoni V Aldredge, lighting by Ken Billington, and sound by Rick Clarke.
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 (AKA Paul O'Grady) from Tuesday 15 December 1998 to Sunday 7 February 1999.
The role of 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks' was played by Kevin Colson throughout the run.
This production played an eight performance-a-week schedule, with three matinees: Tuesday to Saturday evenings, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees.
"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... 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... 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... Martin Charnin fires his energetic production with the right dancing and singing exuberance, tartly subduing the most glycerine excesses." The London Evening Standard
"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 well-sung 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
Annie in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 22 September 1998, opened on 30 September 1998, and closed on 28 February 1999
3rd West End London Revival 2017
Previewed 23 May 2017, Opened 5 June 2017, Closed 18 February 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre
A major revival of the classic family musical Annie in London
The original cast featured Miranda Hart as 'Miss Hannigan', Alex Bourne as 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks', Jonny Fines as 'Rooster Hannigan', Djalenga Scott as 'Lily St Regis', Holly Dale Spencer as 'Grace Farrell', Russell Wilcox as 'Franklin D Roosevelt'/'Lt Ward', and Madeleine Haynes, Lola Moxom, and Ruby Stokes shared the role of 'Annie', with Keisha Atwell as 'Henry Morgenthau', Bobby Delaney as 'Bert Healy', Nic Gibney as 'Drake', Patrick Harper as 'Fred McCracken', George Ioannides as 'Bundles McCloskey', Anne Smith as 'Sophie the Kettle'/'Mrs Pugh'/'Frances Perkins', Kate Somerset How as 'Mrs Greer', Katie Warsop as 'Cecille', Sophie Ayers, Ben Harrold, Megan Louch, Benjamin Mundy, Ben Oliver, and Heather Scott-Martin. Other actresses who played the lead role of 'Annie' during the run included Isobel Khan and Agatha Meehan.
The role of 'Miss Hannigan' was played by Miranda Hart - in her West End stage debut - from 23 May to 17 September 2017; by Craig Revel Horwood from Monday 18 September through to Sunday 26 November 2017; and by Meera Syal from Monday 27 November 2017 through to Sunday 18 February 2018.
The role of 'Oliver Daddy Warbucks' was played by Alex Bourne throughout the run.
Directed by Nikolai Foster, with choreography Nick Winston, designs by Colin Richmond, lighting by Ben Cracknell, and sound by Richard Brooker.
This production played an eight performance-a-week schedule, with three matinees: Monday, Wednesday to Saturday evenings, and Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees.
Meera Syal's London stage credits include the roles of 'Nurse' in Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's revival of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre in 2016; 'Beatrice' in Iqbal Khan's revival of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2012; and the title role in Glen Walford's revival of Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and transfer to the West End's Trafalgar Studios in 2010.
Alex Bourne's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Fred Graham/Petruchio' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic Theatre in 2012; 'Danny' in David Gilmore's revival of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's Grease The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre in 1998; and 'Buddy Holly' in Rob Bettinson'd production of Alan Janes' Buddy the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1995.
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
"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
Annie in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 23 May 2017, opened on 5 June 2017, and closed on 18 February 2018.