Meera Syal to join the cast of Annie

Meera Syal will join the West End production of Annie to play the role of Miss Hannigan for the duration of the run which concludes, on 18 February 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Nikolai Foster’s West End production opened in May this year with Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan and last month Craig Revel Horwood joined the Company to play the role.  Following the conclusion of the West End run Annie will embark on a five week visit to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.

British comedian, actor and writer Meera Syal was last on stage earlier this year in a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) at the Royal Court Theatre where her previous credits include Serious Money and The Great Celestial Cow.  Her other theatre credits include Romeo & Juliet at the Garrick Theatre, Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Rafta Rafta for the National Theatre,Much Ado About Nothing for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Killing of Sister George at the Arts Theatre, Shirley Valentine for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Bombay Dreams at the Apollo Victoria, My Girl for Theatre Royal Stratford East and Goodness Gracious Me on tour.  On television, she is best known for her work in the BBC’s comedy series The Kumars at No. 42 and Goodness Gracious Me as well as roles in Midsomer Murders, Broadchurch, The Boy in the Dress, Silk, Bollywood Carmen, Doctor Who, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, The Secretary Who Stole £4 Million, Linda Green and Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.  Her film credits include Absolutely Anything, Desert Flower, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Beautiful Thing, It’s Not Unusual as well as the forthcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  As a writer, her work includes My Sister Wife and Anita & Me.  Syal was made an MBE in 1997 and a CBE in 2015.

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family…

Annie is playing at the Piccadilly Theatre until 18 February 2018

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Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: Critiquing a show you don’t like is a tough job

It’s always difficult to critique a show you know you don’t like. After I’ve seen a couple of versions of something and have been unimpressed by it, I then try my best to avoid future presentations.

For example, I’ve managed to completely sidestep the new West End production of Annie – starring Miranda Hart – and with the announcement this week that Craig Revel Horwood is to take over the role of Miss Hannigan; I will continue to actively avoid the Piccadilly Theatre until something more interesting comes along. It’s not that I don’t like Craig – he is a really lovely person – but having seen Annie six times within the last two years and previously witnessed his portrayal in the touring production, I know I can manage without another viewing.

There are lots of other shows too, which I would quite happily never see again like South Pacific (in my opinion, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s worse show), 42nd Street (rubbish story and a dull score) and The Sound of Music (or the Sound of Mucus as I call it). It’s not that it’s a bad musical, but I’ve just seen it far too many times and have started to hope that a curtain call is on Maria’s list of ‘favourite things’.

There are also highly acclaimed shows that I just don’t get, like Ragtime, Godspell and Into the Woods, and loads of plays, which – with my limited intellect – I struggle to understand. Some are just far too worthy for this working class girl and I therefore find them extremely difficult to write about.

There are occasionally things that surprise me however, like last year’s Regent Park Open Air Theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar. After being part of a detestable amateur production, I despised the classic rock opera, but Tim Sheader’s fab adaptation made me see it through fresh eyes.

I also had my mind changed by Evita last week. I have previously called the musical ‘excreta’ – such was my loathing of it – but after seeing Emma Hatton in the leading role at the Phoenix Theatre I found myself willing to give the story another go.

I am yet to watch any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta however without feeling the need to cry in desperation and don’t get me started on village pantomimes (I endure an average of 15 each season!).

Gosh, it sounds like I don’t like anything doesn’t it? There are lot and lots of shows I love – which is why I’m so lucky to do what I do – and I also get to discover new things, which I wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

Anyway, I had another fab evening at Alice’s Adventures Underground last week (a real recommendation); I finally watched Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (very good) and enjoyed Evita (a bit!). I also interviewed former Wicked star Idriss Kargbo, who is working on one of my real favourites, Five Guys Named Moe – which will open at the new popup theatre at Marble Arch next month – and I went to the launch of the new season at the New Wimbledon Theatre and had a chat with Kara Lily Hayworth, who will play Cilla Black in the new stage show about the singer’s life.

This week I’m off to interview Carley Stenson – who is currently playing Fantine in Les Misérables (love it!) – at the Queen’s Theatre and then I’m heading down to Underbelly Festival to see Velma Celli’s Iconic: A Brief History of Drag, with special guests Kerry Ellis and Jessie Wallace. I’m then talking to RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon, before chatting to Emma Hatton about her illustrious career and her sensational performance in Evita.

You can follow me on Twitter for regular updates @NickySweetland

Full cast to join Miranda Hart in Annie at Piccadilly Theatre announced

 

Rehearsals began today ( 24 April 2017 ) for the West End production of Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre. Joining the previously announced Miranda Hart who will play Miss Hannigan are Alex Bourne as Daddy Warbucks, Holly Dale Spencer as Grace Farrell, Jonny Fines as Rooster and Djalenga Scottas Lily.

The title role of Annie will be shared by Madeleine Haynes, 13-years old from Hadley Wood, Barnet, Lola Moxom, 12- years old from Rochester, Kent and Ruby Stokes, 12-years old from Hampshire. They will be joined by t hree teams of young performers who will play the girls in Miss Hannigan’s orphanage (see below).  Amber, a 4 year-old Labradoodle, will play Annie’s dog Sandy.

C ompleting the company will be ensemble members Keisha AtwellSophie AyersBobby Delaney,Nic GibneyPatrick HarperBen HarroldGeorge IoannidesMegan LouchBenjamin MundyBen OliverHeather Scott-MartinAnne SmithKate Somerset HowKatie Warsopand Russell Wilcox.

Annie begins previews at the Piccadilly Theatre on 23 May 2017 with opening night on 5 June 2017.  The production is initially booking to 6 January 2018.  Children’s tickets will be half price for Monday toThursday performances (see listings information below).   The production, directed by Nikolai Foster, is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian  

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family…

Annie has book by Thomas Meehan adapted from the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.  The West End production will have sets and costumes designed by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Richard Brooker and orchestration and musical direction by George Dyer 

 

Miranda Hart is best known on television for her hugely successful, semi-auto-biographical and multi award-wining BBC sitcom  Miranda which ran from 2009 for 3 series and 2 specials.  She was the recipient of a BAFTA nomination, an NTA Award and two TV Choice Awards for her performance asChummy in the BBC television drama Call the Midwife.  In 2014 she completed her first sell out stand-up arena tour  My, What I Call, Live Show culminating in five shows at London’s 02 Arena.  As a best-selling author her first book  Is It Just Me? was the biggest selling non-fiction hardback of 2013 winning Non-Fiction Book of the Year at The National Book Awards. She followed this in 2014 with The Best of Miranda and last year

released her third book Peggy and Me.  Her theatre credits include Cruising for The Bush Theatre, Come Out Eli for Battersea Arts Centre, All About Me for Soho Theatre as well as multiple appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her film credits include Spy, The Infidel, Magicians as well as upcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018).   

Alex Bourne ‘s( Daddy Warbucks) theatre credits include Mama Mia! and Rocky Horror Show on tour in the UK, Midsummer Songs at the New Wolsey Theatre, Kiss Me Kate for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, The W itches of Eastwick at the Watermill Theatre, We Will Rock You and Beauty and the Beast at the Dominion, Chicago at the Adelphi, Grease at the Cambridge Theatre, Showboat for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Opera North and Annie on tour in the UK.

 

Holly Dale Spencer ‘s (Grace Farrell) theatre credits include Sweet Charity at the Royal Exchange Theatre, White Christmas for West Yorkshire Playhouse, American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre, the title role in Holly Golightly for Sadler’s Wells, Kiss Me Kate for Chichester Festival Theatre and the Old Vic and Annie on tour.

Since graduating from the Guildford School of Acting in 2010, Jonny Fines‘ (Rooster) theatre credits include roles in Nikolai Foster’s production of Grease at the Curve, The Sound of Music   on UK tour,   I Love You, You’re Perfect…Now Change!  at The Union Theatre, Avenue Q  and Annie on tour.

Djalenga Scott ‘s theatre credits include Grease and An Officer and a Gentleman both directed by Nikolai Foster at the Curve, West Side Story and Annie on UK tour, Batman Live on tour in the US, Chicago at the Garrick Theatre.

The role of Molly will be alternated by Aurelia Borrelli, eight years old from Saunderton, Buckinghamshire, Ellicia Simondswood, eight years old from Lower Morden, Surrey and Nicole Subebe, seven years old from Romford, Essex.  The role of Tessie will be alternated by Jessica Cartledge, ten years old from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Scarlet Grace, fourteen years old from Northaw, Hertfordshire and Dora Yolland, ten years old from Southend-on-Sea, Essex. The role of Kate will be alternated by Shani Roberts, nine years old from Braintree, Essex, Emily-May Stephenson, ten years old from Swadlincote, Derbyshire and Maisie Thorn, ten years old from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. The role of Pepper will be alternated by Drew Hylton, eleven years old from Loughton, Essex, Eva MacLaughlan, ten years old from Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire and Charlotte Ross Gower, fourteen years old from Sittingbourne, Kent.  The role of July will be alternated by Nancy Allsop, fourteen years old from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, Carla Dixon, thirteen years old from Wimbledon, London and Isabelle Methven, thirteen years old from Harpenden, Hertfordshire.  The role of Duffy will be alternated by Kya Davis, nine years old from Slough, Berkshire, Nicole Dube, twelve years old from Colchester, Essex and Kathryn Whetter, ten years old from Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey.

Foster ‘s production arrives in the West End 40 years after the original  Broadway  production opened in 1977 and received seven Tony awards including the  Best Musical,  Best Score and  Best Book.  The last West End production of Annie opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1998. I n 1982, Annie was adapted for the big screen directed by John Huston with a cast including Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Albert Finney and in 2014 a further feature film was released, directed by Will Gluck, with a cast including Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx.  The much-loved score includes the classics It’s A Hard Knock Life, Tomorrow and Easy Street.