10-14 June 2014
Reviewed by Pamela Gantley
“A superb big top performance of this timeless, sharpshooting, musical classic”
The hour drive to the beautiful art deco Regent Theatre in the heart of the cultural quarter in Stoke on Trent was well worth it. This contemporary version of “Annie get your Gun” was a thoroughly toe tapping and enjoyable rendition. With outstanding performances from all the cast it would of been very difficult not to get carried along with this light hearted story of the sharpshooting Annie Oakley, taming the heart of the wild west sharpshooting philanderer Frank Butler. Set in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West touring show.
The stage was draped in red and white fabric providing the convincing impression of a Big Top. Slightly elevated at the back of the stage sits the orchestra, playing the beautiful music for this timeless score from Irvine Berlin. Set changes were smooth and hardly noticeable and the costumes were bustlingly authentic. Charlie (William Oxborrow) setting each scene with a quick line.
The opening number, ‘There’s no Business like Showbusiness’ sets the standard for the rest of the show. Talented singers and dancers and a very convincing Buffalo Bill (Norman Pace) introduce the story of Annie Oakley (Emma Williams) and Frank Butler’s (Jason Donovan) tempestuous relationships as they meet and travel with the show. The audience was thoroughly engaged tapping their toes and humming along, this continued throughout.
Jason Donovan provides a perfect foil to Emma Williams’ amazing talent and they have great chemistry. This is evidenced in their hilarious ‘An Old Fashioned Wedding’ and their charming finale number ‘Anything You Can Do’ the duel in which Annie and Frank flatter each other’s talents – Williams’ amazing voice and Donovan’s fantastic acting and dancing – whilst trying to outdo each other.
The story was easy to follow and the choreography appropriate. If any of the dancers put a foot wrong then it went unnoticed. A very supportive cast who are obviously well rehearsed and used to working with each other. Stand out performances from Dolly (Kara Lane), Foster Wilson (Dermot Canavan) and little Jake (Adam Beaver), who had some of the best laughs.
Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable night. Although the audience were mainly older this could easily be family viewing. The feisty Annie would be a great role model for any little girl and the chivalrous Frank has been toned down to come closer to today’s expectations. The songs really are timeless and even if you didn’t know the story you would certainly know the songs.
The show is defiantly worth catching and a trip to the Regent Theatre in Stoke on Trent would not disappoint. It is centrally located, easy to park and the staff are very helpful and accommodating. The plentiful facilities mean that you can relax in the intermission and not spend your whole time queuing.
Tickets cost from £13.40 to £33.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Annie Get Your Gun is at the Regent Theatre, Stoke until 14 June 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649