Annie – Manchester Opera House – Review

Picture this if you will: a 23-year-old sat on his bed in his pants, eating his own bodyweight in cheese and humming ‘You’re never fully dressed without a smile’ whilst shovelling nachos into his mouth. There is sour cream on every finger, he’s typing furiously in between bites and he’s bet his bottom dollar the sun will definitely come out tomorrow. He also has a massive smile on his face because he’s just returned home from seeing Annie at The Opera House in Manchester and LOVED it. 

If you haven’t guessed it yet, the guy you’re envisioning is me. I’ve had an amazing night.

Annie was brilliant. And when I say ‘brilliant’, I mean frickin’ incredible.

The whole thing blew my mind. The production, the acting, the singing, the choreography, how beautiful the chorus men are – the lot.

The first thing I need to talk about, though, is the leading lady who plays Annie. Oh lord, that girl has some pipes on her! Madeleine Haynes played her for the first night and, honestly, I think we hit the mother lode. I tweeted about it just before the show started and someone sarcastically replied, ‘Is she black in this one too?’ I was like, ‘Mate, sit your racist ass down. I am buzzing.’

Don’t shoot me for this, but I’d never seen Annie the whole way through and only knew a couple of the songs: ‘Tomorrow’ because EVERYONE knows it, ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ because it was in Goldmember and the aforementioned song I’m still humming because Glee covered it – and I’m not ashamed.

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I’m so glad I heard these songs for the first time from Madeleine and the rest of the cast because now the soundtrack is dominating my Spotify. She had just the right amount of sass, the right look (props to the costume designer) and the perfect chemistry with Daddy Warbucks. Just brilliant! I don’t want to put performance pressure on a little girl, but she should be the ONLY Annie performing and I hope that the other two girls match up as she is going places.

Alex Bourne plays a fantastic Daddy Warbucks. I want him to be my daddy and not for obvious reasons. He’s a billionaire, duh. I read that he’s played Danny Zuko, Frank ‘N’ Furter and Billy Flynn. I now want to see all of those shows. He is BAE. The chemistry he shared with Annie was electric and I could legit believe that he’d adopt her and they’d have the best relationship EVER. It was cute as hell.

If I wasn’t an adult, I didn’t have any responsibilities and I was a dirty neglected urchin I’d be all over him.

Whenever I see a show I always have an MVP (Most Valuable Player). Someone who brings sparkle. The person who shined, and really made Annie special for me was Holly Dale Spencer in the role of Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ assistant. She was really something special. From the moment she walked into Miss Hannigan’s office, I was sold. Everything she felt, I felt. When she lit up, I lit up. She set Annie off for me.

I immediately followed her on Twitter and fangirled. I followed her faster than I followed Sutton Foster after seeing her in Shrek. She was marvellous. My MVP.

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Before I get to Miss Hannigan and lower the tone, massive shout out to the chorus and the girls in the orphanage. They are amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing! The dance routines gave me the biggest kick up the arse and made me wonder if what I’m doing with my life is satisfying because I WANT TO DO THAT!

I’m legit in love with every guy in the chorus and I’ve already Twitter-thirsted over them all. During the NYC number they had sailor outfits on and me being me, naturally I loved it. Also, Rosanna Beacock playing Molly, with a mop on her head pretending to be an old drunk, was the funniest thing that I’ve ever seen – funnier than the video of cats scared by cucumbers currently circulating Facebook.

Now I have to address the hot mess that was Craig Revel Horwood’s Miss Hannigan. It was weak, unconvincing and inconsistent. He had a whole page in the programme. Are you kidding me? I don’t care who he is, he didn’t deserve it.

From the second he stumbled onstage, completely overacting someone pouring themselves out of a gin-induced stupor, I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t like it.’ The accent wasn’t there for me either. It didn’t do it for me, nor did it for my flatmate who came with me. She would not shut up about it during the interval (when she wasn’t gawping at the many Coronation Street actors sat behind us, of course). I had to agree, but honestly, everyone else stole the show for me. 

Horwood faded into the background very quickly. I made him fade into the background so I could enjoy the show and think it was the best thing ever. If I’d have spent a lot of my time consciously thinking about his performance, or how drab his alcoholic acting was that disappeared after about twenty minutes, I probably would have hated the show.

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Miss Hannigan was meh. I understand that she’s supposed to be awful, and that came across, but because I knew she should be not because of what I was seeing.

Jonny Fines and Djalenga Scott played her brother Rooster and his new girlfriend Lily incredibly! I was thoroughly appalled by their deplorable acts. Thoroughly appalled and absolutely delighted! They were delicious. I could have spread them on a cracker and eaten them in evil bliss. That is the oddest image I’ve ever conjured up in my head and I instantly regret typing it but I’m not getting rid of it because it’s perfectly accurate. They creeped me out and I loved it! Who’d think to murder an 11-year-old orphan to get $50,000?

Don’t answer that.

Annie is amazing and I highly recommend it. If you need someone to go with, ask me. If you ask a friend and they say they don’t want to go, immediately delete them from your life and unfriend them on Facebook. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Go see it! GET GONE! Manchester Opera House – get on it! It’s incredible and I’m still so happy about it. My heart is smiling! My stomach is happy… That may actually be all of the mozzarella.

Tickets are available from ATG.