Both comedian-turned-actor Norman Pace and songbird Emma Williams are suffering in the heat.
They are appearing on stage in heavy, fringed, buckskins in the summer’s big musical Annie Get Your Gun that’s coming to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre next month.
Norman likes a bit of leather,” jokes co-star Jason Donovan.
And, as Buffalo Bill, Norman is also sporting a fine mane of white hair.
“We’ll either be fit or dead by the end of the tour,” laughs Norman.
“I think I last had this much hair in 1973. I showed a picture to some friends and they thought I looked like Keith Lemon!
“Seriously, the original book (by Herbert and Dorothy Fields) has some great gags in it. The characters are easily approachable and everyone knows where they are from the opening.
“We have seven-and-a-half minutes of There’s No Business Like Show Business which isn’t a bad start to any show.
“It’s timeless and it keeps working.”
Set in the Wild West of the 1880s Jason plays chauvinist gunslinger Frank Butler, sharp-shooting star of Buffalo Bill’s travelling circus, who meets his match when he takes on country girl Annie Oakley in a contest of skill.
Emma made her West End début in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and now, despite a fear of heights, is flying on a trapeze, bursting balloons as the crack shot Annie Oakley.
She said: “I’ve worked predominantly on brand new shows but there’s something wonderful about taking on a role that has existed for a while and you’ve grown up with.
“You go through life saying: ‘I really hope someone will put that show on whilst I’m still an appropriate age to play the part.’
“So when this came up and someone asked me into an audition I said yes immediately – several times over!
“It’s one of those rare shows, says Emma, “which has a strong female protagonist. She is feisty. Annie has some guts behind her. She’s a bit of a role model. She is uncompromising and honest.
“Annie Oakley was an absolute feminist. She was a sharp-shooter in a man’s world. Even Frank realised that she had this amazing talent and stepped aside to support her”.
Norman chips in: “The real Buffalo Bill was a great proponent of women’s rights and Native American rights.
“He said in 1880 that if a woman is as good as a man at the same job then she should be paid the same wages. That’s not always the case even now!”
The dance routines are something special and that, says Norman is down to director Ian Talbot and choreographer Lizzi Gee.
“They are like a tag team. You do not let you get away with an inch. The creative team, including Steve Ridley, the musical supervisor, are so hot and won’t accept second best.
“This is a West End quality production and we’re proud of that.”
Norman, who used to be one half of comedy duo Hale and Pace, is now a committed stage actor.
He added: “I’ve had my fill of TV. They stick you in a room with no windows for 14 hours a day which isn’t a pleasant experience.
“I just prefer the stage. It’s like a party, getting to do it with different people every night.
“I was really flattered to be asked to do this and, as Buffalo Bill, I get to lord it over Jason Donovan. That’s the reason I’m doing it!
“Having grown up as a cynical comedian Gareth Hale and I used to write all our own stuff and this was the kind of thing we’d take the mickey out of.
“I’d go and see a show and come away and write a parody of it.
“But the first time I saw Phantom Of The Opera I was absolutely touched by it. It was astounding and I went away crying.
“Musical theatre does something no other theatre does – it gets straight to your heartstrings. It makes you glow.”
A full interview with Jason Donovan can be found in the features section of Stage Review
Remaining tour dates:
24 – 28 June – Oxford New Theatre
1 July – 5 July – Birmingham Alexandra New Theatre
15 – 19 July – Churchill Theatre, Bromley
22 – 26 July – Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
29 July – 2 August – Malvern Festival Theatre
5 August – 9 August – Liverpool Empire
12 August – 16 August – New Victoria Theatre, Woking
19 August – 23 August – Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
26 August – 30 August – Brighton Theatre Royal
2 September – 6 September – Glasgow Theatre Royal
9 September – 13 September – Wimbledon New Theatre
16 September – 20 September – His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
30 September – 4 October – Torquay Princess Theatre