Starting its UK tour off at Manchester’s Opera House, Annie Get Your Gun is ATGs latest ‘Manchester Gets it First’ initiative. Judging by last nights’ audience this show is going to be a hit.
The story sees Buffalo Bill introducing the audience to the story of sharp shooting Annie who joins the famous Wild West Show after falling for the star of the show Frank Butler during a chance meeting. Whilst emotions run wild Annie inherits top billing from Butler who then takes off to join a rival touring show. As with most love stories the lovers live happily ever after but not without a few disagreements during the way!
Emma Williams, Norman Pace and Jason Donovan star in the latest revival of this classis Irving Berlin musical and are supported by a sizeable ensemble and nine piece band. The entire show is set to the backdrop of a circus tent in an all expenses spared set which requires a lot of audience imagination as you are transported between scenes.
It is not until you hear the soundtrack to this musical that you realise just how many songs you actually know. ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ opens and closes the show whilst popping up throughout. The musical highlight of the night was without question ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’ with Emma Williams far out shining Jason Donovan on every level.
Norman Pace gives a solid performance as Buffalo Bill and acts as part narrator during the show. Jason Donovan is miss cast in the role of Frank Butler, his vocals were very weak last night and the chemistry with his leading lady wasn’t evident bar one scene in the second half. Jonathan Wilkes is set to play the role of Butler at various points during the tour and it will be interesting to see the comparison with Donavon.
The stand out star of the show is Emma Williams playing Annie. Celebrating her Birthday she demonstrates every quality the role requires with assurance and gusto. Her vocals are faultless and her impeccable comic timing made full use of the joke littered script. Her long note during ‘Anything I Can Do’ was simply sensational and drew instant applause from the audience.
Annie will do well on tour. Taking away the sparse set and lacklustre performance of Donovan, this is a fun show with many toe tapping numbers which will send you home with a broad smile on your face.
Reviewed: 20th May 2014 by Paul Downham.