Thursday, 8 March 2018

“Annie Get Your Gun” by EMS
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
This is one Erewash Musical Society production that has "FUN" written all over it from start to end.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West show is in town and visits Cincinnati, Ohio, Frank Butler, the show's star, challenges anyone in town to a shooting match. Foster Wilson, the local hotel owner, doesn't appreciate the Wild West show taking over his hotel, so Frank gives him a side bet of one hundred dollars on the match. Annie Oakley enters and. when Wilson learns she's a brilliant shot, he enters her in the shooting match against Frank Butler.
Annie meets Frank Butler and is instantly smitten with him, not knowing he will be her opponent, which she then discovers and ends up winning the contest. She is invited to join the travelling show, which she accepts because she has fallen for Frank, and even though Frank proposes to Annie, things have a way of not running too smooth for the love struck sharp shooters!
Based on the true story of Miss Annie Oakley, this is one of those musicals that is packed with show tunes that you’ll know, “The Girl that I Marry”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Doin’ What Comes Naturally”, “They say It’s Wonderful”, “Anything You Can Do”, “The Sun In The Morning", all instantly recognisable. I can guarantee that you will leave the theatre with one or all of the above rattling around your head for days afterwards
Frank Butler is played by Dan Bates. Now this is the first time that i have seen Dan in an acting role, as far as i can remember. I'd heard Dan sing and knew that he could sing. From tonight i now know that he can act and sing in an American accent. A champeen performance!
Simon Parker (Buffalo Bill) rocked that silver wig (i take it, it was a wig) and looked every inch the boss clad in white.
Alex Tavener, as Dolly Tate, was wonderfully fun to watch and it looks like Alex was having as much fun on stage as we were watching her in the audience.
Zak Charlesworth played Tommy Keeler, the half Indian half Irishman.Good to see Zak carrying on with the less serious roles. he also has one of the best voices in the show.
Playing Tommy's wife is Giselle Tavener, and a lovely chemistry there is between these two characters.
Charlie Davenport is played by Richard Dawson and manages to be that stepping stone between Frank and Annie while still being the business manager for Buffalo Bill's show.
Keith Butcher looked every inch Chief Sitting Bull in that cool, calm , collected way that the man who has all the answers can be.
The shapely sharp-shooter, Annie, is played by Rebecca Charnley, and what a role to play. She is a feisty one and Rebecca gets the character of Miss Oakley on the button. Mix that feistiness with a massive dollop of fun and you have the perfect Annie. As with Dan, learning to sing in an accent is not easy but this show is all about the fun factor and that American singing accent only adds to the fun of the role. And boy does Rebecca throw everything into the role.
Annie's siblings are played (Thursday night) by Dylan Hoodle (Little Jake), Katie Fitzpatrick (Jessie) and Nadia Potter (Nellie) and are a trio of cuteness with endless confidence.
There's also a very talented ensemble working in with these main characters who flesh out the dances and crowd scenes, who we must not forget.
Directed by James Bowden, he keeps the pace going nicely, which you need to when the production is two and a half hours long, but boy do you get your money's worth.
Martin Lewis is the Musical Director for the show with his talented posse of musicians making up an 11 piece orchestra.
A couple of times the music did swamp some of the lines from the actors but that's just one of those things. It certainly didn't detract from the performance.
This show has a lot of numbers which means that there is also a lot of choreography,and I loved the energy levels of these dances and dancers. Victoria Palmer is the choreographer we have to thank for this area of excellence.
Sets can be a problem in smaller theatres but EMUS get round this by use of cinematic sets (Paul Young) and this worked really well. The clarity of these projection designs is wonderful, especially the one for the boat in Act Two. There are also additional bits of scenery to enhance the projections, so it;s not just a flat backdrop picture, which also shows this company's set building talents.
Loved the costumes, and they must be great dun to wear. let's face it who wouldn't want to dress up as a cowboy or indian and prance around on stage?
And last but not least, because where would we be with the sound and light guys (in the dark and silent), the four musketeers of the S&L world, Ben TennettDave DallardDave Martin and Matthew Cook, creating the final aural and visual experience.
Yet another brilliant production from everyone involved, and the packed audiences echo such local talent. Quite rightly so!
“Annie get Your Gun” is up the town at The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 10 March 2018.

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