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Review: Annie at the Liverpool Empire Theatre

Nikolai Foster's latest offering is a New Deal in itself, which fans of the classic 1982 film will adore

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan in Annie(Image: Paul Coltas)

It's a hard-knock life but a night out at a musical usually helps lift the spirit.

And Annie, at the Liverpool Empire this week, did just that.

The rags-to-riches story of orphan Annie sparkles into action against a backdrop of the Great Depression.

And Nikolai Foster's latest offering is a New Deal in itself, which fans of the classic 1982 film will adore.

Young Annie has been left at the orphanage by her parents with a letter, half a locket and a promise to pick her up when they are able. Convinced she is not a true 'orphan', she is determined to find her own mum and dad.

Twelve-year-old Anya Evans, in the eponymous role, is a true star in the making. As the fiery redhead, who tries on more than one occasion to escape orphange life, she more than holds her own with the adult performers and steals what is really her own show.

Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph is a true harridan as the drunken Miss Hannigan, in charge of the orphanage, although she obviously hadn't been drinking too much gin to achieve the highest of kicks and deft leaps. Her accent implied she hadn't been long in New York and left me wondering whether or not she would have better to have played it as a Cockney migrant.

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan in Annie at the Liverpool Empire(Image: Paul Coltas)

Annie's chance to escape comes in the form of the billionaire Oliver Warbucks, who offers to take in an orphan for Christmas. Alex Bourne is remote and then almost lovable as 'Daddy', but certainly wouldn't be where is is today without Holly Dale Spencer as his fabulous assistant Grace Farrell.

The ensemble, adults and children, were as slick as can be under choreographer Nick Winston's lead and musical director George Dyer's baton.

Colin Richmond's set of jigsaw pieces outlined the change from the poverty stricken orphanage to the grandeur of the Warbucks household seamlessly.

Oh and there's a dog - a two-year-old adorable Labradoodle. What's not to like?

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