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Miranda Hart receives mixed reviews for performance in Annie

She is appearing as the orphanage boss in a reprisal of the play at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Miranda Hart has received mixed reviews for her performance as Miss Hannigan in a West End production of Annie.

The comedian and Call The Midwife star, 44, is appearing as the child-hating orphanage boss in a reprisal of the play at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Although her inclusion was described by The Stage’s Mark Shenton as “unashamed stunt casting”, he added that she “proceeds to earn it”, while the Daily Telegraph called the production “just what London needs right now”.

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The newspaper’s critic, Dominic Cavendish, called Hart “no Imelda Staunton in waiting” but lauded her portrayal as “a triumph” as he dished out four stars.

He added: “I’m a fan-boy of La Hart; for me she can do no wrong, precisely because she’s that rare bird, a comedian who’s unafraid to muck it all up, courting embarrassment as she fails to get to grips with ‘adulthood’.”

The Stage also opted for four stars, calling the play a “warm revival of the classic Broadway musical with a winning performance by Miranda Hart”.

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However, The Guardian’s Michael Billington offered three stars, describing Hart as “difficult to accept” in a role as an accomplice to abduction and possible murder.

He wrote: “She is suitably authoritarian as the whistle-blowing, gin-swilling Miss Hannigan; she sadistically pummels an orphan’s teddy bear and highlights the character’s sexual repression whenever a man is rash enough to enter her domain.

“She can also carry a song, as she shows in her musical diatribe against Little Girls. But, while I admired Hart’s professionalism, I never quite felt, as I did with Sheila Hancock’s exuberant performance in the original West End production, that this Miss Hannigan possessed the instinctive villainy of Mrs Squeers from Dickens’s Dotheboys Hall. Hart, I suspect, has too much heart.”

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The Evening Standard also plumped for three stars, with Henry Hitchings describing the show as “creaky”.

On Hart, he added it is “not easy to accept this essentially goofy performer as someone who’d contemplate getting mixed up in abduction and murder”.

Annie runs until January 6 at the Piccadilly Theatre.

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