Annie Get Your Gun
Lavender Theatre, Epsom Downs
Music and Lyrics: Irving Berlin
Director: Simon Hardwick
Producer: Lavender Theatre Artistic Director Joe McNeice for Lavender Productions Ltd
Dates of run: July 17-August 5
Cast: SuRie, Charlie McCullagh, Chlöe Hart, Elliot Broadfoot, Nina Bell, Joe Boyle, Kyerron Dixon-Bassey, Jay Faisca, Marisa Harris, Holly Lawrence, AJ Lewis, Joseph Vella, Olivia Ainsworth, Mayah Balcerak, Layla Duke, Mahlie Duval, Poppy LeRougetel, Caitlin Muggeridge.
Running time: two hours, twenty minutes, including interval.
Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business” is the perfect opening for a show and especially for the inaugural show at the Lavender Theatre on Epsom Downs.
When I attended, the stellar cast embodied as fully as possible the song’s spirit of “going on with the show” as the rain poured, the action was paused so water could be swept from the stage and the awning adjusted to ensure the lucky audience stayed dry.
Personally, I’d have been willing to get wet, given we were hooked from the first syllables, winningly delivered by Elliot Broadfoot as an amiable Buffalo Bill.
He fires the starting gun on the telling of a deceptively simple story of rivalry between the sexes.
SuRie, of Eurovision Song fame, as the hillbilly who’s a perfect shot, is more than a match for the “big swollen-headed stiff” Frank Butler, played with good-natured swagger by Charlie McCullagh.
The high point of a relationship that we never doubt will end “scrappily ever after” is an hilarious rendition of “Anything You Can Do”, as fresh today as when first performed.
Women might be CEOs and prime ministers, but it’s as true as it ever was that many men would struggle to accept a woman with a keener aim.
Equally contemporary is the issue of another man who only briefly has the upper hand – Chief Sitting Bill, played as a gentle elder by Jay Faisca. The 50,000 barrels of oil per day on his reservation is seized by Uncle Sam.
Because this is a feel-good musical of the kind audiences crave, now as then, in a time of European conflict and squeezed incomes, the potentially toxic issues are sung and danced away.
We wander away through the lavender fields that surround this charming new theatre wishing wider tensions could be as easily resolved.
Barbara Lewis © 2023.