Annie the Musical at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury starring Birds of a Feather actress Lesley Joseph

It's perhaps unfortunate timing that the plucky kids from Miss Hannigan's orphanage are stomping their way through Canterbury the week ahead of half term for most schools.

That said there wasn't a spare seat in the house at The Marlowe Theatre on Monday night when the hit musical - direct from London's West End - opened for a much-anticipated six-day run in the city.

Annie is at The Marlowe until Saturday, October 19
Annie is at The Marlowe until Saturday, October 19

Such is the draw of the story, that spans generations, of the plucky red-headed orphan and her search for parents who left her on the steps of a New York City orphanage as a baby, that the troupe of energetic young actresses who play Annie and her fellow orphans were not the only children at the theatre up past their bedtime on opening night.

Set in 1930s America at the time of The Great Depression, Annie is living a life of misery at Miss Hannigan's orphanage until she's chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Except the spiteful Miss Hannigan - played by actress Lesley Joseph - becomes part of a plan that risks ruining Annie's dream of finally having a proper family.

Despite the overriding theme of an out-of-work America where crime is rife, unwanted children are put-to-work and war in Europe is on the horizon there is plenty in Annie to be very cheery about indeed - so let's start with the soundtrack.

Whilst Tomorrow is perhaps considered its signature song, it's perhaps It's The Hard Knock Life which is one of this musical's stand-out numbers.

Annie the Musical
Annie the Musical

As the group of exceptionally talented young performers bang mops, stomp feet, throw pillows and swing from bed frames as they complain about their treatment at the hands of the villainous Miss Hannigan it is the perfect opening for a musical with a foot-tapping stream of songs that also includes Easy Street, I Don't Need Anything But You and You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile.

Whilst the former Birds of a Feather actress is utterly fantastic as the hapless, scheming and very often intoxicated orphanage matriarch - with all the comic-timing and facial expressions that made her so popular as Dorian Green - she is not the only one deserving of a mention.

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan
Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan

Alex Bourne, who plays Daddy Warbucks, Carolyn Maitland as his secretary Grace and Richard Meek as Miss Hannigan's brother Rooster are all part of an exceptionally talented cast ensuring audiences are having a swell time.

And the infamous mantra of 'never work with children or animals' can surely not be applied to this cast where Annie (being played by Kiana Dumbaya, Ava Smith and Mia Lakha on this current tour) her group of grubby comrades and not to mention Sandy the dog quickly melt audiences' hearts.

Whilst the show holds onto all the charm of the original movie (or the 2014 remake starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz if you're perhaps of a younger generation) Annie the Musical brings with it all the magic and marvel you expect from a big West End number.

And if you've only ever seen the film version of Annie don't leave it until Tomorrow to book those tickets - half term or not.

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