With several stage productions and two movies previously most of us have heard aspects of Annie and at least two of the big production songs therein. The story of little orphan Annie as a stage musical is pure Broadway and every production since has reflected this. Set in New York in the first place the minimal sets reflect the great depression of the 1930’s following the Wall Street Crash. So we can expect conmen, unemployment, brushes with the law and a workhouse that doubles as an orphanage. The dim lighting and dull costumes give great contrast when they introduce Mr Warbucks, the billionaire and friend of the President no less. The pivotal role of the orphanage matron varies on this tour and for Scottish dates we find Elaine C Smith. Known for her touring shows, Burdz Eye View for STV and Rab C Nesbitt roles she becomes the larger than life Miss Hannigan here played like a panto dame but with character, song and dance without dropping the Brooklyn accent.
Because of age regulations a range of young girl teams play Annie and her room mates and the presentation here was faultless. She endeared herself to the audience with the big songs and charmed her way throughout. Sandy the dog was a scene stealer though so watch for him throughout. In the opening 15 minutes we get two big numbers in Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow but we had Easy Street, N.Y.C and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile still to come. Choreography is deliberately over the top as is the costuming when we get to Warbucks mansion and a delight to witness within this feel good musical theatre experience.
Edinburgh Playhouse till May 21
Photo credit: Paul Coltas