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Review: Annie, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

RELENTLESSLY optimistic and boasting an utterly captivating cast of young stars, Annie, at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre, was a joy to behold.

The film version has long been a firm favourite with my two daughters and it’s fair to say that watching the rags-to-riches story played out on stage had them completely mesmerised.

Annie is on stage at Southampton Mayflower Theatre until Saturday
Annie is on stage at Southampton Mayflower Theatre until Saturday

From the opening scenes in the orphanage bedroom with the young ensemble belting out ‘Hard Knock Life’ the beautifully put-together show combined superb scenery and show-stopping choreography to maximum effect.

Playing the title role was actress Zoe Akinyosade, who definitely possessed all the sass and energy of the irrepressible young orphan. With an incredible voice and a huge stage presence, Zoe and the entire cast of youngsters elevated the show to dizzying new heights.

However, it wasn’t just the youngest cast members that sparkled – Alex Bourne was superb as Annie’s billionaire guardian Mr Warbucks, subtly changing his character as he fell under the young orphan’s spell. Alongside, Amelia Adams was wonderful as his bubbly and kind assistant Grace Farrell.

Set in 1930s New York during the Depression, there were undoubtedly some parallels to the current cost-of-living crisis especially in a scene where the homeless ensemble looked back on their former lives.

Paul French as Rooster and Billy-Kay as Lily were another superb double act – bringing a huge helping of comedy to their roles as Annie’s fake parents.

Mention must also go to a gorgeous golden retriever, who played Annie’s best friend Sandy the dog, as the role is divided between three pups – Darcy, Lily and Boris, I’m not sure which appeared for our show – but the timing was perfect and the aww factor huge!

Annie is on stage at Southampton Mayflower Theatre until Saturday
Annie is on stage at Southampton Mayflower Theatre until Saturday

Stepping into the oversized shoes of the formidable Miss Hannigan – the orphanage supervisor, was TV judge Craig Revel Horwood, who was gave a wonderfully rich and high energy performance, bringing real dimension to the villainous role.

Dedicating the touring production to the memory of his friend Paul O’Grady, who was set to appear in the role of Miss Hannigan, the Strictly Judge ensured the entire audience were on their feet for a thunderous applause at the evenings conclusion.

Annie is on stage at Southampton Mayflower until Saturday. For more information and tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk

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