Photos: Danny Kaan
This one-night only semi-staged concert by Lambert Jackson was a great celebration of Irving Berlin’s best-loved 1946 musical, albeit not in its original form. Considering it’s never to be repeated, the show seemed extremely tight and well-rehearsed, right down to the lighting (Joseph Ed Thomas) and choreography (Emma Butler).
The star of the show as 19th-century American sharp-shooter Annie Oakley was Rachel Tucker, known to legions of fans for her seven-year stint as Elphaba in Wicked. With her trademark megawatt charisma, Tucker eked every ounce of humour from the musical’s book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, giving plenty of trademark belt in “Anything You Can Do (I Can Better)” and “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”.
Conducted by Adam Hoskins, the twenty-piece orchestra from the Trinity Laban Musical Theatre Ensemble gave a tight, well-rounded sound, but were let down by some sound tech (Jonny Dickie). The Palladium is a gigantic and difficult venue to mix sound for, but for a musical as iconic as this, nothing else could do.
This 1999 revised version by Peter Stone does away with the rapey “I’m a Bad, Bad Man”, and the racist “I’m an Indian, Too”, and other songs, too. But cutting all reference to the “five hundred Indians and fifty squaws” in Colonel Buffalo Bill’s show, and all reference to Frank Butler (Oliver Savile) as a dangerous womaniser, leaves us with a completely one-dimensional love story and almost nothing else. To hear those tracks in concert, you’ll have to listen to Spotify on the tube ride home.
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