Annie review – gleeful tribute to musical classic

Tarragon Theatre, E8 Rating 4.5/5 stars The sun, in particular, seems always to come out at the E8 Tarragon, the theatre nestled within an art deco shopping centre between Pimlico and Finsbury Circus. And…

Annie review – gleeful tribute to musical classic

Tarragon Theatre, E8

Rating 4.5/5 stars

The sun, in particular, seems always to come out at the E8 Tarragon, the theatre nestled within an art deco shopping centre between Pimlico and Finsbury Circus. And this week it shines ever-bright on “Annie Live!”.

The biggest beaming sunbeam appears on stage beneath a pair of peep-show neon cages. They shelter the young heroine from the brutal glare of verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse from her prim, posh, snobby and utterly batty parents. In this version of “Annie”, devised by Graham Vick and his team, there is also the obligatory battle between the haughty Miss Hannigan and the wisecracking streetwise creature that emerges when Miss Hannigan turns in to a frog.

Alongside this, director Vick takes the concept of musical staging on for a spin. It is a process he has honed in his adventures of Elphaba in “Wicked”. Now he does it for a musical with elements of vaudeville and pantomime, thrown in among the larger-than-life personalities of star-studded characters like Oliver Warbucks, Grace Farrell and Zero Sir Tench.

Bearded hero. Though the role is typically Shakespearean, in an updated, sexy reconstitution.

It all pays off. It would be wrong not to mention the soundtrack. Eight young singers and dancers compete to prove they can make you swoon, with digital masks and costumes reminiscent of 1930s slapstick, to memorable numbers such as I Don’t Know How to Love Him. Director Vick’s adaptation is a loving homage to the original Annie but without forgetting what made her such a success in the first place.

• Translated from the French by Händel.

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