Thursday, 2 March 2017

Annie Get Your Gun | Phoenix Theatre Company | Dormston Mill

This is the third production I've seen by Phoenix Theatre Company, and with the past two productions  I saw (one of which being The King and I which I reviewed here) being so slick they had a lot to live up to. Annie Get Your Gun features some of Irving Berlin's best known songs including 'There's No Business Like Show Business' and 'Anything You Can Do' but apart from that I knew fairly little of the show. In short, the show is about Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show where their top shooters Frank Butler and Annie Oakley fall in love with all sorts of mishaps and disagreements taking place before they finally end up together. I sensed a few nerves from the actors at the beginning of the show but as it went of the whole cast seemed to grow in confidence and put on a very amusing and lively production.

Although Vicky Bull, who played leading lady Annie Oakley, has been with Phoenix Theatre from the start, this was her first principal role but if I hadn't been told that I wouldn't have known. She was quick-witted with a truly brilliant voice. Her rendition of 'You Can't Get a Man With a Gun' showed the powerful side to her voice but she also got to show off a wonderful range throughout the show. Similarly Richard Probert, who played Frank Butler, had a great voice, opening the show with an a capella solo and I particularly enjoyed Annie and Frank's duet  'They Say It's Wonderful'.

The whole cast seemed to work really well together and it was clear that they'd all been working hard in rehearsals to keep the show running smoothly so everyone deserves a shout out for that. However I'd like to make particular reference to Sarah Aldridge who played the role of melodramatic Dolly Tate to perfection, as well as to Daniel Green and Beth Berwick-Lowe as Tommy and Winnie respectively whose music and dance duets really put a smile of my face.

One of the places where amateur productions sometimes fall down is not the singing or acting but other aspects such as set, costume and sound. The set for this production however was wonderful and scene changes were nicely punctuated by music from the live band led by musical director Dan Tomkinson. The costumes were bright and eye-catching and although there were a couple of microphone issues here and there (a couple of times I missed what had been said by a character in the background) overall the balance between music and lyrics was good.

Tickets for the run, which ends on Saturday 4th March, are almost sold out which is not so good if you haven't seen it yet but really great for the company to sell out such a well-known venue in the area. There is some limited availability for the Thursday and Friday night shows so check out Phoenix Theatre Company's website or Facebook page for more details. You're guaranteed to leave the theatre humming the opening number with a smile on your face!

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