On April 29 I saw the Uk West End National Tour of Annie at The Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.

Over all the show was very good. It was sold out with most of the audience being young girls and their mothers. 

The cast was made of mostly the London West End cast and the orphans were played by local kids. The part of Annie was double casted as the UK cast would be following British Actor's Equity rules which only allow any actors under age 14 to do four shows a week while the orphans would follow Canadian Actors Equity rules that allow them to do all eight shows a week. 

Annie was played by Ruby Stokes and Isobel Khan. In the show I saw Annie was played by Isobel Khan. Vocally, Isobel Khan was very good. She had the powerful voice needed for this role. Acting wise, it was another story. Her acting was typical musical theatre acting. She being British, had to do an American accent and tried a bit too hard to sound American. Also, her speaking voice sounded like a cross between Baby June and a a chipmunk. Her acting lacked the depth that makes this role so enjoyable. Annie is supposed to be a tough, streetwise kid. She is supposed to "have a heart of gold and swift right hook". Isobel  Khan did not portray this in the role. She just played Annie as bland, sweet, young girl. 

The orphans were generally good. Their singing, dancing ,cartwheeling were very good. But no standout acting. The actress who played Tessie (Ella Lariviere) should have played her more annoying, and the actress who played Pepper (Shechinah Mpumlwana) was not convincing enough as the bully of the orphanage. 

Lesley Nicol (Mrs Patmore on Downton Abbey) did not play the role of Miss Hannigan mean enough, and could not dance. 

Standout performances included Tara Verloop (Star to be), Kate Somerset How (Lily), Matthew Hawklsey (Rooster) and Alex Bourne (Daddy Warbucks) In fact, Alex Bourne gives the best portrayal of the role I have ever seen, and this is the fifth time I have seen this show. 

The musical numbers were great. The number that got the most applause was the orphans version of Smile - even though the staging and choreography was not the original Peter Gennero version. (And it was my most favorite part of the show).

One disappointing thing about this production, when Annie descends the stairs to come down for her party at the end of the show, she does not wear the red dress and the curly red hair. In fact she looked more like "Annie of Green Gables" because she had her red hair in braids for a lot of show.

But anyway, I would give this show a 7 out of 10. And hope to see a better production next time.

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It would be interesting for you to see a Canadian cast doing the American staging so that you could compare the two.


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