The sharp shooting classic musical by Irving Berlin, Annie Get Your Gun, hit Woking’s New Victoria Theatre as part of its UK tour but failed on occasion to make its mark.
Emma Williams’ performance as the sassy but love-struck Annie Oakley was a triumph and she belted out the wonderful songs of Irving Berlin with style and panache. However, the same could not be said of Jason Donovan, as Frank Butler, whose portrayal was rather lacklustre and whose voice was too poppy and underpowered to do the score justice. In contrast to his character he was off target for most of the show and even at one point fell over.
The other cast members, though, more than made up for Jason’s deficiencies and there was much to enjoy including some great renditions of There’s No Business Like Show Business and Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly.
And Norman Pace as Buffalo Bill was charismatic as befitting his famous showman character. Indeed he so inhabited the role I failed to recognise him as Norman Pace and was completely convinced that he was indeed the great Buffalo Bill.
Minor adjustments to the plot appealed to more modern sensibilities so by the end, although Annie deliberately missed her shots to snare her man so did Frank Butler and they became equal partners both professionally and personally, although in the Anything You Can Do duet Emma Williams had the upper hand.
It was a good evening’s entertainment and I left the theatre with several terrific tunes still in my head.
It runs at Woking until Saturday (August 16) when Jonathan Wilkes will be playing Frank Butler so perhaps he may do better in that part than Jason Donovan in which case I would recommend it.