Annie Get Your Gun

June 18, 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩    Crack-shot Annie

Edinburgh Playhouse Tue 17 – Sat 21 June 2014

Annie Oakley, one of America’s first superstars, demonstrates at the Playhouse all this week that Anything You Can Do, she can do better.

The cast of Annie Get Your Gun

The cast of Annie Get Your Gun

The new tour of Annie Get Your Gun attempts to bring the Irving Berlin classic production into the 21st Century.

Originally composed in the 1940s, the story is a fictionalised version of the life of Annie Oakley (Emma Williams), a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and her romance with Frank Butler (Jason Donovan).

This production uses the 1999 revised version of the musical by Peter Stone, which tries to circumvent the insensitive references to American Indians and the subjugation of women to produce a politically correct version of the tale. It doesn’t quite succeed and the production feels like it has lost something special and endearing along the way.

The production struggles to balance Annie’s spark, independence and Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly with the outdated notion that You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun.

Annie falls in love with Frank with one glance and the rest of the musical is centred around their romance. What director Ian Talbot fails to effectively portray is the “why?”.

Missing is the original book and score’s element of swagger which showed Butler as a charming bad boy with just the right levels of confidence and arrogance to attract the ladies. In an attempt to make the show politically correct, there seems to be confusion over what Butler is supposed to be and he comes across as just a nice, if a little dull, guy.

In a critical moment, Butler professes that he went into the fight as a lion and came out like a lamb – well the lamb was there, but the lion never even left his den.

“a real sense of enthusiasm”

In a serious case of life imitating art, just as Annie outshines Frank in every possible way, so too Emma Williams outshines Jason Donovan. Williams brings a real sense of enthusiasm to the role – she plays a strong and feisty character, whose spark is only diminished slightly by the occasional interference from the male characters. Her performance is flawless and there is no trouble believing that she is the remarkable exhibition shooter that can do just about anything.

Emma Williams as Annie on the trapeze. Photo Alastair Muir

Emma Williams as Annie on the trapeze. Photo Alastair Muir

In contrast, Jason Donovan’s performance as Frank doesn’t quite hit the mark. The challenges of characterisation are only exacerbated by a lacklustre vocal performance where his voice fails to make the grade set so highly by Emma.

In fact, this is a common theme throughout this production, with the female cast easily outperforming the male cast. There are endearing and heart-warming performances from Kara Lane and Lorna Want as Dolly and Winnie Tate, but this too often serves to highlight the obvious uninspiring performances from the opposite gender.

The costumes and set are appropriately exuberant and decadent to show that There’s No Business Like Show Business. The enthusiastic dancing and ensemble work is both perfectly choreographed and visually fantastic, and the emergence of the talented musicians onto the stage in the second half of the show is a real treat that accentuates just how dynamic Buffalo Bill’s Wild West would have been.

The result is an enjoyable spectacle that entertains. Unfortunately though, on the whole, the production overshoots the mark and it’s not quite enough to put the spark back into what should be a great feel good musical.

Running time 2 hrs 30 mins (including interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 June 2014
Daily 7.30pm; Wed, Thurs, Sat 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website: www.atgtickets.com
Tour website: www.anniegetyourgunthemusical.com

Annie Get Your Gun on tour 2014:
Tue 17 – Sat 21 June 2014 Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
Tue 24 – Sat 28 June 2014 Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
Tue 1 – Sat 5 July 2014 Birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
Tue 15 – Sat 19 July 2014 Bromley
The Churchill Theatre
08448 717 620 Book online
Tue 22 – Sat 26 July 2014 Aylesbury
Waterside Theatre
08448 717 627 Book online
Tue 5 – Sat 9 Aug 2014 Liverpool
Liverpool Empire
08448 713 017 Book online
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Aug 2014 Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645 Book online
Mon 18 – Sat 23 Aug 2014 Bournemouth
Pavilion Theatre
0844 576 3000 Book online
Tue 26 – Sat 30 Aug 2014 Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
Tue 2 – Sat 6 Sept 2014 Glasgow
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7647 Book online
Tue 9 – Sat 13 Sept 2014 Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
Tue 30 Sept – Sat 4 Oct 2014 Torquay
Princess Theatre
0844 871 3023 Book online

ENDS

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