ANNIE | London, Piccadilly Theatre

Miranda Hart stars in this smash hit West End transfer for the UK production that has been touring since 2011. Some may find the real star of the show is the iconic score, which thanks to an outstanding cast and thrilling new orchestrations, sounds better than ever.

Hart brings her trademark lanky charm to evil orphanage owner Miss Hannigan. While looking slightly ill at ease in the dance numbers, she has an undeniable charisma on stage (she usually plays solo arena tours), and uses her ropey but powerful alto to hilarious effect, achieving a star turn in a small amount of stage time.

The sensational cast of young girls, led by eleven-year-old red-head Annie (there are three separate casts due to child labour laws), packs a punch, as do the whole ensemble, with knockout Matilda-meets-42nd Street choreography (Nick Winston).

By contrast, the sweet story of how a little orphan girl can warm a rich businessman’s cold heart in 1933 New York City has no edge in this production; even the “Hooverville” slums have fairy lights. Because the minimalist set was designed to pack flat and play big on tour, all locations look like the backdrop, a collage of blue and yellow jigsaw pieces (never referred to). An ensemble of only eight cheapens the atmosphere. Despite these setbacks, Miranda and Annie fans alike are sure to be blown away by the new lease of life for this classic musical.

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