Annie Get Your Gun is a sureshot of a success in this rootin’ tootin’ revival of the classic Irving Berlin musical.
The show, now touring the country, has an incomparable score (who doesn’t know There’s No Business Like Showbusiness?), an impeccable pedigree (original book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields) and a sensational, larger-than-life, love story at its heart.
Now put all that together with a cast led by Jason Donovan, a dazzling re-invention by director Ian Talbot and top notch choreography from Lizzi Gee and the show can do no wrong.
I caught up with the tour at Oxford New Theatre this week which is Donovan’s home theatre and it was clear that he had upped his game since the opening in Manchester.
Here was a more confident star who had found his voice as “our dashing handsome leading man,” sharpshooter Frank Butler.
The musical opens with its biggest hit and sets the theme for this three-ringed circus of a show. It’s big, it’s noisy and it’s firing on all cylinders.
Annie Get Your Gun is “the tempestuous and romantic story of Frank Butler and Annie Oakley,” the two best shots in the wild west, who ended up working together in Buffalo Bill’s travelling show.
Emma Williams, who was Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now endorses her credentials as a leading lady by taking the lead as Annie.
The girl has charisma and charm with a voice to rival Ethal Merman’s original knockout performance (no, I know what you’re thinking, Doris Day was Calamity Jane).
The vocal chords are really put to the test with Anything You Can Do. Wow, can she hold a note!
Comedian turned actor Norman Pace gives an out-sized performance as the showman Buffalo Bill and Ed Currie makes an impressive, rather witty, Chief Sitting Bull (who knew he was a comic?)
There is also strong support from William Oxborrow as BB’s company manager Charlie Davenport.
The dancers are sensational (My Defences Are Down and Who Do You Love, I Hope? in particular) and the whole show is backed by a great on-stage band.
Yes, it’s an old fashioned musical in every sense, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s charming, wonderfully acted and beautifully staged.
Catch it at a theatre near you.