Theatre review: Annie Get Your Gun @ New Wimbledon Theatre

When Annie says “anything you can do I can do better”, you’d better believe it.

Emma Williams’ charming portrayal of funny and quick-witted country girl Annie Oakley leaves little room for doubt that she is the show-stopping star of Annie Get Your Gun.

But energy and charisma were not compliments reserved just for Williams.

Emma Williams as Annie

Emma Williams as Annie

Kara Lane (Dolly Tate) and Lorna Want (Minnie Tate) both bring commanding stage presence and outstanding vocal performances respectively.

But while Lane, Want and Williams bring vivacity and strong vocal performances, leading man Jason Donovan is a little off the mark.

The deafening, and prolonged, screams from die-hard fans heralded Donovan’s arrival on stage as Wild West show star Frank Butler.

He brought the charm and charisma that only a seasoned musical veteran can but when performing alongside Williams at times he lacked vocally and played a more passive role.

Annie Get Your Gun Jason Donovon

But Donovan isn’t solely to blame. A modern take on the original by Irving Berlin, Ian Talbot’s version of Annie Get Your Gun appears to have removed all controversy from the latest script.

Well, almost all.

The idea that a woman with a gun cannot get a man is a concept explored in both old and new versions of the play.

But whereas in the original script Annie loses deliberately in a final shoot-out against Frank to get her happy ever after, Talbot offers audiences a PC 21st century alternative.

Annie Get Your Gun aerial pic

While feminists can rejoice in Talbot’s modern interpretation, the good deed leaves Donovan’s character caught somewhere between nasty and nice and the original bravado is lost in favour of a less interesting character.

The production does however keep some of the original controversy in the form of Native American stereotyping.

Ed Currie is funny as Native Chief Sitting Bull and receives positive audience responses but the one-word answers and simplistic tone and language felt a little awkward at times.

Show classics including There’s No Business Like Show Business, Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly and Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better injected the auditorium with a real feel-good atmosphere and had audience members enthusiastically singing along.

Annie Get Your Gun ensemble

Annie Get Your Gun is a fun-filled triumph and worth seeing if only for the distinguished performance by starlet Emma Williams.

In an explosive and spectacular fashion, the play concludes with an all-singing, all-dancing homage to Berlin’s musical genius.

After seeing this show the old adage that there’s no business like show business is definitely hard to dispute.

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