Annie Get Your Gun. Music and lyrics: Irving Berlin. Original book: Herbert and Dorothy Fields. The 1999 revival revised by Peter Stone. Director: Nina Stevenson. Musical director: John Yoon. Choreographer: Kathryn Jones. Queanbeyan Players. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. Friday-Saturday November 8-9, Thursday-Saturday November 14-16 at 8pm. Matinees, Saturday November 9 and November 16 at 2pm; Sunday November 10 at 5pm.
Annie Get Your Gun is a grand old musical with enough tuneful and witty Irving Berlin songs to justify a revival and to send an audience out of the theatre singing There's No Business Like Show Business.
The Queanbeyan Players give Peter Stone's 1999 revised version an energetic workout without necessarily meeting all of the piece's challenges and contradictions.
The original show comes from 1946 and portrays the developing relationship between backwoods sharpshooter Annie Oakley (Anita Davenport) and Frank Butler (Richard Block), the star sharpshooter of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, in old-fashioned terms.
Annie still sings You Can't Get a Man with a Gun and Frank still warbles that the girl he marries ''will have to be/As soft and as pink as a nursery'' and by the close she has certainly taken on the satins and laces and smells of cologne. But the final shooting contest in this version is tweaked for modern egalitarian sensibilities.
This production does not quite attain the ironic distance that Stone's framing device of a show within a show allows on matters like gender and racial politics, because it never makes the device theatrically clear. The set is impressively economical, although the lighting needs to be more precise, but this extra layer is blurred.
Block's Butler is genial but could use more boldness of character and needs to sing consistently in tune. Something rather strange is going on, too, in the usually romantic number My Defences are Down, where the chorus seems to be doing some inappropriate male-stripper choreography that clashes with the sentiments.
The Wild West Show's Indians, robbed in this version of I'm An Indian Too, don't seem to fare much better, with gags about getting money by running casinos and finding oil on the reservations.
However, in Davenport the show has an Annie who blossoms in the second half. The first half, where Annie is still a country hick, asks for a precise comic technique and a clarity of diction to hurl those great songs Doin' What Comes Natur'lly and You Can't Get a Man with a Gun to the back wall of the theatre. That clarity arrives to great effect as the character matures.
The secondary couple of Winnie (Sophie Hopkins) and Tommy (Greg Sollis) have some charm, Annie's young siblings (Samantha Barker, Sarah Bevan and Jake Keen) work hard at scene stealing and Fiona Hale's Dolly Tate has a comic energy that lifts every scene she comes into.
At the end, the matter of the 1999 revision is lost amid rousing reprises of the best of the songs backed by John Yoon's hard-working orchestra. If that doesn't get you singing, nothing will.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.