Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Annie -Review- Theatre Royal Newcastle

28th August 2012

The fabulous rags to riches tale of Annie is the next instalment for Newcastle Musical Theatre Company, a company that I have reviewed with top marks a couple of times.
Annie (Victoria Monaghan), having been left at the girls orphanage by her folks who couldn’t cope when she popped out into the world, is desperate to be re-united with her parents, she knows that they still love her and will come rescue her one day.
Annie is very unhappy with the roof over her head, slave labour and being treat like dirt. Running away from her surroundings is top on her agenda.
Miss Hannigan (Sarah Wales) is not at all happy with this, being the owner/runner of the orphanage, trouble with the kids is time away from her bottle and floozy ways.
However, Annie does abscond, runs from the law and the vagabonds on the streets of New York, New York (so good they named it twice..ooops sorry wrong musical!!) but eventually always returns to the not –so – friendly breast of Hannigan.
Multi millionaire Oliver Warbucks (Gareth Lilley) is feeling very frivolous, he wants to take a disadvantaged orphan and let them spend Christmas with him at his mansion. Annie is chosen (or happily puts herself up) to attend..however as much as this pleases her, she still wants to be reunited with her parents, a little girls love for her next of kin is beautifully portrayed.
Warbucks is at first taken a back with the sex of the child, he was thinking baseball and war mongering games, but soon comes to love Annie being around the place. He puts into place adoption papers, not only to keep her out of the orphanage but because he is starting to feel real emotions for her. Annie is also taken aback by this, and tells him that if her real parents can't be found then she would love to be adopted by him.
What follows, in this tale of cat and mouse deceit, love, hope and all things glittery, is a beautiful feel good story that you should go and see at all costs.

With a wonderful set design that totally complimented the feeling of 1930's New York, Annie blasted through the curtains and immediately popped a smile on my face..damn good start...will the ball keep rolling?
With fantastic sing along songs; that have really annoyed my work colleagues today, with my whistling and humming!, coming thick and fast such as the wonderful 'It's A Hard Knock Life','Maybe','NYC' and 'Easy Street' all setting the scenes perfectly.
The singing by the orphanage girls was second to none, with the cheeky smiles and pulling of faces in all of the right places, they were good..very very good!
The interactions between Monaghan, Lilley and Wales was very well done, flawless scenes of top acting.
This for the third time running this has been nothing like its amateur billing. Tremendous work has been gotten out of the actors to come up with something really special
The play was only slightly marred by a few technical sound issues, that will be taken care of, for the rest of the run. Sound has got to be spot on, especially at The Theatre Royal!
Notable mentions for;
Noel Harris, who played the miserable, then jolly Harold Ickes. He certainly made the most out of his little part. Great to see him back on stage.
Leon Gill who played Bert Healy is getting better year after year with his dancing, singing and massive buzz on-stage-persona.
Lisa Powell who amongst others played Mrs Pugh, captured her scenes perfectly, I have seen her a few times on stage doing the odd little spot, but this time around she was in just about every scene, doing what comes naturally to her.
Lucy Conroy was heartbreakingly fantastic as the all smiles, all pulling faces singing superstar that is Molly. She was brilliant and should be proud that I am giving her top marks as best on stage.

Yet again great score from the orchestra pit led by MD Michael Lamb, with super choreography led by Victoria McPherson.
Annie is already known as a feel good film/theatre event...but this just had smiles and laughter all over it. Something that has definitely been injected by director Bea Atkinson. Her attitude is to get over to the actors, that they should get it right 100%, but 100% enjoy it.
Tonight gave me a spine tingling smiley feeling that only great theatre can give.
Go and see isn't going to break the bank and what you will get is annoyance from your friends, family and work mates for not being able to get the blinking tunes out of your head.

Annie is playing until 1st September

Michael Hunter


  1. Thanks Michael. I am sure the entire company, cast and crew, are really appreciative of your very supportive words. Your enthusiasm for our efforts comes shining through every word. If you ever need a proof reader, let me know! Michael Avery, Executive Vice President, NMTC

  2. Thanks Michael..honoured to be invited and to meet you all again, the play was amazing. I am sure the Theatre Royal will be a sorrier place come curtain down tonight (Saturday)