by Karen Quinn, Nov 19 2019
Last night we were invited to the opening night of Annie, the West End Musical at The Regent Theatre in Stoke on Trent. And what a night it was. Show stopping songs, amazing sets and the most well behaved stage dog I’ve seen!
Piper is a huge musical theatre fan with her own dreams of singing and dancing on stage so we embrace any opportunity to check out her favourite shows. Her excitement about seeing Annie the musical went well beyond the well-advertised Dorien from Birds of a feather playing the infamous Miss Hannigan to the fact that there would be actual children performing on stage.
From the minute those kids started belting out “It’s a Hard Knock Life” we knew it would be a good one. So much so, I got goosebumps as they danced around the orphanage stage set, brilliantly designed by Colin Richmond.
The set design was amazing, with jigsaw pieces as a main theme which light up as Annie tries to piece her life together. The location stages, such as the homeless in the city, the orphanage and the Warbuck mansion are all brilliantly detailed without taking away from the action on stage.
This was a night of laughter and tears (I have to admit to welling up during my old fave “Tomorrow”) and a massive singalong on the car ride home to keep Piper awake.
The story of Annie
If you didn’t grow up belting out tomorrow, tomorrow or dream of being whisked away by a kindly billionaire (sorry Mum) then here’s a quick overview for you. Annie is set in Depression-era New York, a tough time for all involved. It follows the story of orphan Annie, beginning in a miserable orphanage with an even more miserable owner, Miss Hannigan. Annie is whisked away by the wealthy Daddy Warbucks to spend two weeks over Christmas in his beautiful home. (hmmmmm!?). The Billionaire enjoys their time together so much he decides to adopt her. However, she only wants to find her parents. After some more scheming by the evil Miss Hannigan and her con artist brother and a little help from the FBI all ends happily on Christmas day.
Annie The Musical Cast
The whole cast were absolutely amazing but the kids were the ones that totally stole the show. Annie was breathtakingly good, confident, clear and with a singing voice made for stage. Her supporting cast of orphans were equally good in what must be very demanding roles, singing and dancing their way through the show.
As mentioned, Lesley Joseph reprises her role as Miss Hannigan and is totally convincing as the hard drinking, child hating orphanage owner. Her performance of “Easy Street” alongside the other baddies of the show was a definite stand out moment. Olivier Award nominated Alex Bourne plays Mr Warbucks, as the steely yet soft Billionaire. But I think my favourite was Carolyn Maitland who plays Grace, Warbuck’s secretary who brings real warmth to the role.
I can’t write about the cast without at least mentioning the real life stage dog, Sandy, Annie adopts early in the show. He bought a smile to Pipers face every time he was on stage.
How long is the show?
The show lasts 2 hours in total with a 20-minute interval meaning we left the theatre just before 10pm. Piper, who is nine, lasted the whole way through the show, there was plenty going on to keep her interested but for younger kids it may be best to book a matinee performance.
Is Annie kid friendly?
Totally, it’s a show about kids, to be loved by kids! There aren’t any themes I would shy away from but some of it, such as the political scenes, will be a bit lost on younger ones. Piper struggled to understand the New York accents at times but it didn’t seem to impact her understanding of what was going on. No under twos though, there’s no way they’d sit through the show.
The Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent
The theatre was built in 1929, originally as a cinema, it’s a beautiful old building surrounded by plenty of places to get pre theatre drinks or dinner. The theatre also has several places to grab a drink. My favourite is the gorgeous piano bar on the first floor. We also had an interval drink in the stalls bar.
Rather comfortingly for the freezing night it was, inside the Regent Theatre is positively toasty! Make sure you’re wearing layers should you need to cool off.
How much are tickets to see Annie
Tickets are absolutely great value ranging between £13 and £47. Amazingly affordable for a West End Show.
When can I see Annie at the Regent Theatre?
Annie The Musical runs at the Regent Theatre from 18th November until the 23rd November. Evening shows start at 7.30pm and there are two matiness on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.
How to get to the Regent Theatre
The Regent theatre is located in Hanley, in Stoke’s city centre. It’s easily accessible from the A50. If you’re arriving by train then book your ticket to Stoke and it’s about a 10 minute taxi ride to the theatre.
Where to park for the Regent Theatre in Stoke
There are several car parks around the Regent Theatre. We parked next to the Mitchell Arts Centre in a pay and display. It cost £3 for the evening and was just a 5-minute walk to the theatre. You could also park at the Intu Potteries Shopping Centre and maybe tie in with some late night xmas shopping. Again, it will only take you 5 minutes to walk to the Regent.
Why not make a night of it and book a hotel near the Regent theatre in Stoke.
What do they say? Never work with animals or children, Annie the musical perfectly dispels this myth, it’s a fun and colourful night out which will leave your cheeks aching from smiling and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be humming the songs for days.
If you’re looking for other festive things to do in Stoke this year, take a look at this run down of the best Christmas events, Stoke on Trent. Or for another fabulous, mainly indoor event in Stoke, check out my review of the Gladstone Pottery Museum with kids.
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I was gifted tickets to see Annie the musical at the Regent theatre in Stoke as part of my role supporting #mystokestory highlighting fabulous venues and attractions in and around Stoke on Trent. If you’re looking for more fantastic ideas, events and things to do in Stoke make sure you take a look at the Visit Stoke website for inspiration.
As always, all opinions are my own (and my daughters!).
This post may contain affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you book via one of these links at no extra cost to you.