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Anna and the Apocalypse not quite dead, but not lively enough

December 6, 2018 4:30 PM
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In brief: Instead of going off to “uni” (university), cool-but-relatable Anna (Ella Hunt, better than her material) crushes the hopes of her grieving widower school janitor dad (Mark Benton) by announcing her intentions to travel. First, though, a local problem arises, part of a global zombie pandemic glimpsed on the occasional TV screen.

Side characters include Anna’s rage-y ex (Ben Wiggins), whose personality conversion in the later scenes doesn’t merit the character’s survival, and Anna’s nice-guy pal (Malcolm Cumming), stuck in a rut of unrequited love. Choreographer Sarah Swire also plays a transfer student, nice and deadpan with the throwaway lines. (She’s by far the most compelling screen presence.) Stuck with dull songs — he’s not alone — Paul Kaye oozes generic malevolence as the deputy headmaster hellbent on keeping the Christmas talent show rehearsals on track, despite the zombie problem.

“This isn’t Disney,” goes one phrase in the ensemble number “Hollywood Ending.” Well, that’s partly true. Besides the obvious High School Musical spoof origins, Anna and the Apocalypse lazes through set-ups and payoffs previously exploited in everything from The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964) to this year’s direct-to-video Disney undead tuner Z-o-m-b-i-e-s.


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