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Review: Pippin

Digitally enhanced Fosse

Menier Chocolate Factory, London SE1

    Best to ignore the moral of this 1972 musical by Stephen Schwartz, summed up by the lyric, "It never was there, it always was here". The hero, Pippin (Harry Hepple), learns that to find a life of fulfilment you should not look beyond the people who love you, which is almost as bad as the advice given by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz - that you should not look beyond your own backyard.

    Block out the homespun wisdom and what is left is a terrific score by Schwartz that is rooted in some of the best musical theatre of the 1960s, and, with Bob Fosse's choreography wonderfully recreated by Chet Walker, some exhilarating dancing, too. Matt Rawle as a kind of Mephistophelian emcee, and a terrific Carly Bawden as Pippin's love interest both sing superbly well.

    Mitch Sebastian's production updates Roger O Hirson's book to the computer age by setting the action in a, well, computer. Think of the movie Tron and you will get an idea of designer Timothy Bird's brilliant set.

    Do not expect to be enlightened by the crazy story-line, but anyone who is as committed as the Chocolate Factory to staging Fosse's dance routines is all right in my book (it also revived Sweet Charity), especially when it is done as well as it is here.

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