Review – Annie Get Your Gun
Once in a while you can just sit back and be swept along with the enthusiasm, the music, the acting and the story and leave the theatre well satisfied with a song in your heart.
That’s Annie Get Your Gun at the Theatre at the Mill.
They have nothing, no learnin’ and no social graces but in fact, Annie has something worth it’s weight in gold, a sharp shooters eye and reactions. She falls in with Buffalo Bill Cody who realises her potential when she beats his star attraction, handsome Frank Butler in a shoot off. She joins his Wild West show, falls in love with Frank, however, there is big time rivalry, they argue, fall out, split, are reunited and despite her desire to be the genteel lady Frank expects, she still has that feisty side to her and he loves it.
This production directed by Peter Corry has all the basics of the story but he embellishes it in a most exciting way, he paints beautiful pictures on stage, one of the loveliest is when Annie is singing her siblings to sleep and the cast gather round as the band in the corner plays ‘Moonshine Lullaby’.
I don’t recall ever seeing such a talented cast. Lead by George Jones as Buffalo Bill, living every moment of the character and obviously enjoying every minute, the leads are two excellent performers from Scotland, Kara Swinney and Blair Robertson. Kara thank goodness adopts the Ethel Mermann approach rather than Betty Hutton and belts out the numbers where appropriate yet in ‘Falling In Love’ she is ‘soft and pink as a nursery’. Blair is every inch a Howard Keel and earned himself a new fan club at Tuesday’s opening night.
These young people, many from the London stage and the junior members of the cast drawn from local talent – and they are fabulous – act, sing, dance, play a dozen instruments between them, and play them exceedingly well. They are full of energy and like George, enjoy working with each other and want to please their audience. They all establish eye contact with us, invite us into their fun and games as members of the Wild West Show – ‘The Best in the World’.
This is billed as a new production and it certainly is, little hints of Chicago, a touch of Cabaret, a wonderful hoe-down and towards the end the famous number, ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’ shows off the vocal skills of the lead performers and their breath control.
Congratulations to Peter and producer Bernard Clarkson, music director Matthew Reeve, choreographer Fleur Mellor, designer David Craig and lighting designer, Conleth White.
The matinee at 2.30pm on October 10th is a ‘relaxed performance’ suitable for children with autism or learning disabilities and it will feature adapted lighting and lowered sound levels and audience members are free to talk and move around the auditorium if they wish.
Other facilities include accessible seating and bathroom facilities and a hearing loop. A social story is available ahead of the performance either by email or in printed form.
This show proves a point – There is No Business Like Show Business, so do your self a favour, don’t miss it.
by Anne Hailes
Theatre at the Mill
Annie Get Your Gun
runs until 10th October with matinee 2.30 p.m. on 10th October 2015
For all information www.theatreatthemill.com or contact the Box Office on 02890 340202.