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Chris High reviews: Liverpool Empire 'Annie Get Your Gun' 2005

Annie Get Your Gun


Liverpool Empire Theatre
Rebecca Thornhill, Steven Houghton, Charles Lawson, Graham Newell,
Keisha Marina Atwell, Joshua Bancel
Director: Timothy Sheader
November 7th, 2005
(Reviewed by Martin Maloney)

Annie Get Your Gun reviewed on www.chrishigh.com

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

There can be fewer settings more magnificent than Liverpool's Empire Theatre for any form of theatrical production. Whether the genre be Classic Opera, Contemporary Rock or high-steamed farce, the stage comes alive when performers are on it. If you like your performers to belt out 'Golden Oldies', then what better show can there be than Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun and what finer songs than There's No Business Like Show Business, Doin' What Comes Naturally and the superb Anything You Can Do, when they are all sung with a gusto worthy of the West End itself.

Rebecca Thornhill in the lead role of Annie Oakley, was immaculate in her singing and goosebumps abounded as she hits the high notes. Everything she did was excellent, but her rendition of Can't Get A Man With a Gun was outstanding, as is the scene in which she is swinging high across the stage shooting her guns.

Supported extremely well by Steven Houghton in the role of Frank Butler, he managed to change the mood of the show with his range of performance, from a hard womaniser to a young man smitten by the joys of love.

Charles Lawson's Buffalo Bill showed that there is a lot more to him than just an ex-soap star treading the boards: his singing and dancing were of a standard Jim McDonald from Coronation Street can surely only dream of. Graham Newell, in as understudy playing Tommy Keeler, showed that he has the talent to be a star of the stage for many years to come.

The ensemble as a whole was extremely enthusiastic, with Keisha Marina Atwell in particular catching the eye with all that she did. The slick changes of scenery went mostly without a hitch, though the wrong curtain came down at one point.

Two criticisms are that the first half was a little too long with the second half being too short and, secondly, it is now the 21st Century and as such some changes needs to be made to the characterisation in some of these 'classic' musicals. Chief Sitting Bull, for example, was portrayed at times as the very stereotypical Native American Indian and at times had the audience shuffling in their seats with embarrassment. This is no criticism of actor Joshua Bancel, but rather of the need for some aspects of this, and other productions for that matter, to be updated.

Nevertheless, director Timothy Sheader has done an excellent job bringing this 'classic' to our doorsteps and long may it continue. In the words of one of the great songs on the night, Let's Get On With The Show.



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