Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Annie Get Your Gun, Production Company, Sept 29, 2004

Annie Get Your Gun   
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin, Book by Dorothy & Herbert Fields   
The Production Company
 State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Sept 29 to October 2, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Marina Prior plays with relish the gauche, illiterate country hick, Annie Oakley. in Roger Hodgman's production of Annie Get Your Gun,

Matching her boldness is Scott Irwin, as Frank Butler, Annie's love interest, "the swollen-headed stiff" who, until Annie erupted on the scene, was the best sharp shooter in the world.

The entire production leaves the audience smiling. The story is cute, the music jolly and memorable and the characters sympathetic.

Annie, the uneducated sharpshooter, is invited to join Buffalo Bill's (Terence Donovan) Wild West Show and quickly becomes the star, upsetting Frank's ego.

The story, written in the 1940s, reflects the newfound power and independence of women and satirises the expectations of men for a pink and pretty wife that will purr like a kitten and sit on his knee like a doll.

Hodgman's direction keeps a pace rapid and varied rhythm. The efficient device of a narrator, Charlie Davenport, (Gary Down) announce each scene location.

Although without massive scenery, Annie has a full orchestra on stage and a chorus of fifteen singer/dancers.

Choreography (Paul Mercurio) is energetic, colourful and manages to neatly confine itself to the small stage space.

Musical Director, Kellie Dickerson, conducts Orchestra Victoria through the rollicking score, maintaining a charming, unobtrusive presence throughout.

Enhancing the atmosphere are evocative lighting (Matt Scott) and a simple, vivid set (Richard Jeziorny OK) establishing the Big Top, Hotel, a train and fairground.

Irving Berlin wrote singable and memorable songs for this score and Prior and Irwin make a feast of them.

It opens with there's No Business Like Show Business and, even without Ethel Merman, it is a rousing chorus.

Prior's cheeky charm is highlighted when she sings the bright and bawdy tune, Doin' What Comes Naturally. And her rendition of You Can't Get a Man With A Gun is hilarious.

We enjoy My Defences are Down, I Got the Sun in the Morning, the Girl That I Marry Moonshine Lullaby.

Nicki Wendt is brassy and funny as Dolly Tate, Renee Burleigh and Ranjeet Starr charming as the younger couple and Michael Carman is poker faced and comical as Chief Sitting Bull.

Annie is an up beat entertaining night that will leave you singin' tunes.

LOOK FOR: Prior and Irwin singing Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better at the Shooting Match.

By Kate Herbert

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