Annie Get Your Gun

Date 12th March 2013
Society Jewish Theatre Group Manchester
Venue Paragon Arts Centre
Type of Production Musical
Director Robert Margolis
Musical Director David Wilson
Choreographer Debbie Hilton

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Author: Kevin Proctor

Annie Get Your Gun is one of the great masterworks of the first Golden Age of American musical theatre and JTC’s production of it hit the bullseye!

Kim Edge fires on all cylinders as the legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley, a glorious performer who dazzled and boasted all the qualities of a leading lady. Kim acted the part with spark and splendour while offering fresh shadings to the memorable Irving Berlin numbers but for me, “I Got Lost In His Arms” was the cherry on top!

The Paragon Arts Centre comes with its restrictions, particularly so for such grand shows as AGYG, however, the minimal approach by Director Robert Margolis worked for this Broadway revival version. By staging the production in this simplified and minimalistic way it enabled the show to adapt to the space while making it easier to keep the story moving and, which is always a winner for me, instantly presented the piece for a modern audience.

The lighting and sound teams were a credit to the overall presentation of this show, these are areas that repeatedly make amateur productions look sloppy, regardless of how good the people are on stage, so, credit where it’s due!

Amongst the large supporting cast, Howard Goldman manages to infuse "injun" Chief Sitting Bull with friendly-giant majesty, Deborah Finley delivered a polished Dolly Tate with high calibre and Ivor Farley coped and delivered the mighty Buffalo Bill with charm.

Leading man, Andrew Farley as the swollen headed stiff; Frank Butler, had a pleasant singing voice and delivered his lines with clarity though nerves seemed to get the better of him as he struggled to relax which restricted his performance.

Charlie Davenport played by Stephen Moss missed the status and bravado of the character though kept his pace and energy consistent.

The biggest attribute to this show, for me, was the chorus as each ensemble member shone and performed to the max which instantly uplifted those rousing full company numbers!

Berlin’s score remains a sterling example of eclectic song types filtered through a distinct musical voice, making Annie Get Your Gun a remarkably cohesive musical and David Wilson’s orchestra executes the score to stunning effect! Although I cannot deny that the orchestra was money well spent to give full credit to Berlin’s score, I do think a reduced orchestra would have worked better for the size of the venue and to coincide with the minimalistic approach used throughout, plus, it was very difficult to hear the dialogue over the underscoring.

Other delights come in the form of the trio of young actors (Harriet Dean, Louis Rubenstein & Alex Waxman) who play Annie’s younger siblings with a sharp sense of comic timing and Jodie Klapisch & Jaysen Lewin’s portrayals of Winnie and Tommy, which elevate the second-tier romance to first-tier level.

Congratulations on a terrific production, it’s always a warm welcome and a delight to visit JTC!