|Richard Block as Frank Butler and Anita Davenport as Annie Oakley|
The Q, Queanbeyan until 16th November
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Queanbeyan Players new production of “Annie Get Your Gun” offers theatregoers the opportunity to see the revised version of this show, which received a cool reception when it was presented on Broadway in 1999.
Originally the story of Annie Oakley concerned a naive backwoods girl with a prodigious talent for sharp-shooting, who deliberately loses a shooting contest to get her man. In this revised, politically-correct version, that man, Frank Butler, realising Annie is going to lose the contest, decides to shoot so badly that the contest ends in a draw (go figure). Only a few Indians are represented and they’re referred to as “the original settlers”.
For those who don’t give a jot for such details, most of Irving Berlin’s superb songs remain, although “My Defences are Down” oddly, becomes an all-male “bump- and- grind” routine, “I Got the Sun in the Morning” disintegrates into a hoe-down, and a new song, “I’ll Share It all With You” is staged as big production number disregarding the fact that the scenery is indicating that it’s happening in the corridor of a Pullman car.
Neither Anita Davenport, initially more Bindi Irwin than Annie Oakley, or Richard Block, a fine looking Frank Butler, have the vocal strength to do the songs justice, but both give winning performances. Jake Keen is adorable as Little Jake, Fiona Hale is deliciously hateful as Dolly Tate, and Pat Gallagher (Buffalo Bill) and Gerard Fitzsimmons (Chief Sitting Bull) provide excellent support.
The scenery is a bit sparse, but there are a big production numbers, lots of colourful costumes, and a large orchestra, all of which contribute to an agreeable evening watching a classic Broadway musical that really doesn't need revising.