Comedian Lily Savage will take over from Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph as 'Miss Hannigan' in the 21st anniversary production of Annie, which opened at the Victoria Palace on 30 September 1998 (previews from 23 September).

Savage, who was voted BBC TV Personality of 1997 by the Variety Club and is just completing a nationwide stand-up tour, will perform from 15 December to 7 February 1999. Joseph finishes her run as the hardened orphanage mistress 29 November. In the interim, the role will be played by understudy Jenny Logan.

Set in Depression-era America, Annie tells the story of an orphan girl who - with her dog Sandy as a sidekick - is desperate to escape the oppressive New York Municipal orphanage. When millionaire Daddy Warbucks decides to adopt Annie, her dreams start to come true - with a few hitches and a lot of singing. The musical s now classic score includes songs such as “Tomorrow”, “You re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “It s a Hard Knock Life” which has recently been recorded in a rap version by Jay-Z, due to be released in the UK 30 November.

The show is one of the longest running musicals on Broadway, where it opened in April 1977 and ran for 2,377 performances. Annie was first presented to London s Victoria Palace in May 1978 and has not been seen in the West End since 1983. It has been performed in 24 languages and is the most performed touring and amateur musical in the world.

Kevin Colson remains in the cast as 'Daddy Warbucks' with the part of Little Orphan Annie played alternately by Sophie McShera and Tasha Gold. Other members of the cast include: David Alder, David Bacon, Andrew Bradley, Geraldine Feeney, Susie Fenwick, Peter Harding, Marc Joseph, Andrew Kennedy, Louisa McCarthy, Kate Normington, Neil Rutherford, Gail Marie Shapter, Louise Tomkins, Simone White and Matt Zimmerman.

The new West End production of Annie is directed by Martin Charnin, the musical s original director and lyricist.