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Annie Get Your Gun review at Union Theatre, London – ‘old-fashioned charm’

Gemma MacLean in Annie Get Your Gun at Union Theatre, London. Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke Gemma MacLean in Annie Get Your Gun at Union Theatre, London. Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke
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Last seen in the West End in 1992, Annie Get Your Gun has been more recently revived at the Young Vic in 2009 and at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre last Christmas. It’s hardly a rediscovery – the Union usually stages rarer finds – but the great joy of Kirk Jameson’s loving, precise production lies in its evocation of the period and in its unabashed celebration of its old-fashioned charms.

Some of those charms are admittedly problematic in terms of sexual and racial politics: a woman has to submit her own gun-toting prowess to catch a man, native American chiefs become odd producing partners for a travelling circus show.

Yet accept those for what they are – and Peter Stone’s revision, which cleverly frames it as a show-within-a-show, mitigates some of those excesses – and you can bask in the glorious glow of the score by Irving Berlin. It’s the equal of any of the great masterpieces of the mid-1940s including Oklahoma! and Carousel.

“They say that falling in love is wonderful,” sing Annie and Frank, and to hear these two shooting rivals sing their emotions as fervently as the feisty Gemma MacLean and smooth-voiced Blair Robertson is indeed “wonderful, wonderful, in every way”.

So is Alex Bellamy’s punchy musical direction and the choreography by Ste Clough that explodes on the space created by Amy Watts’ framing stage curtain, flooding the stage with movement.

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A scintillating revival of a Broadway classic that exudes old-fashioned charm