Review: Annie – Edinburgh Playhouse

The world’s most famous orphan is back on stage and singing her heart out.

Annie - Playhouse Theatre
Annie - Playhouse Theatre

The sun always comes up tomorrow in Annie – a slice of old school Broadway that has been revived several times across the decades, with a history dating back a century.

From comic strip to radio to film and then theatre, the rags-to-riches story still finds new audiences, as well as those who love its famous numbers.

Everyone knows It’s A Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow, the refrain from which weaves its way through this show, from Annie’s solo to a smashing group piece set in the president’s office.

Annie - Playhouse Theatre

NYC was a great showstopper, and Easy Street was excellent.

This new touring show brings Lesley Josephs, star of Birds Of A Feather, to the role of Miss Hannigan, the ‘orrible orphanage owner who treats the bairns like serfs and retains a special dislike for Annie.

The waif believes her parents left her there by mistake and reckons one day they’ll come back for her.

Instead, a billionaire businessman, Daddy Warbucks - played by Alex Bourne - picks her after deciding to home an orphan for Christmas, and puts up a hefty reward to find her parent, bringing all the hucksters and fraudsters out of the woodwork.

It’s an age old tale of money and greed, as well as one of love.

It’s got ragamuffin kids galore who turn in some smashing song and dance numbers, it’s got a cute stray dog – Amber the labradoodle who clearly knew where the treats were kept! – and it’s got orphan Annie played by Ava Smith who belted out the big numbers in perfect Annie style, and more than held her own considering this was her pro debut.

The set captures the 1930s era – a giant New York map which rises to a forest of jigsaw pieces, and dazzling lighting to capture the excitement still palpable to a newcomer even in an age of the Great Depression - although the references to iconic figures such as Babe Ruth and Harpo Marx seemed a bit lost on this audience. Shame really, they were pretty neat one-line jokes.

Josephs bags the biggest laughs of the night, Richard Meek and Jenny Gayner excelled as the fraudsters Rooster and Lily – great villains! – the crowd loved all the big numbers, the choreography was a delight to watch, and we all get the happiest of happy endings.

A smashing musical with a built-in, timeless, feel-good factor.

Annie is at the Playhouse until October 5.