Annie Get Your Gun

Date 28th April 2017
Society Tunbridge Wells Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
Type of Production Musical
Director Alison Cripps
Musical Director Andrew Payne
Choreographer Elizabeth Witt and Jessica Punch


Author: Doreen Grierson

Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun was first performed in 1946 and is based on the true story of Annie Oakley who had a talent for sharpshooting and became the star attraction of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. This was after winning a shooting match against the show's resident sharp shooter, Frank Butler. The romance that evolved between these two is perfectly true but the remainder of the story is mainly fiction.

From curtain up the audience were immediately amongst the show biz world of travelling entertainers. The excellent sets and costumes were full of colour showing the different characters that would have made up their travelling world. The band, conducted by Andrew Payne, were good and at just the right volume.  Annie Get Your Gun is not a favourite among societies these days so it was such a joy to hear all the well-known songs again (well, for me anyway, as I last performed this in 1999) especially the most famous There’s No Business Like Show Business and it’s many reprises. I have come to expect high quality choreography from TWODS and the formidable duo of Elizabeth Witt and Jessica Punch have nailed it yet again with some slick routines, I especially liked the marching drill with rifles.

The undeniable star of the show, with a sensational voice, is Cheryl Storer as Annie.  Her comic timing and exaggerated facial expressions, together with the ability to gradually develop her character from a rough tomboy into a very feminine star, as Annie’s self-confidence grew. Ian Blackmore as the smooth talking Frank Butler and Annie’s love interest, had a voice that was a pleasure to listen to and he and Cheryl were well matched. There were other stand out performances from Sophia Wallace as Annie’s nemesis Dolly Tate and David Hynes as the manager of the show Charlie Davenport. Providing the young love interest as the singing, dancing knife thrower and his assistant was Jack Thrower as Tommy Wheeler and Brooke Wells as Winnie Tate. Of course there were many other supporting characters that helped make this the well rounded show it was.

This was a production, directed by Alison Cripps, that paid attention to detail and it was obvious that the cast were enjoying themselves by their infectious enthusiasm. Well done TWODS another show of the highest standard.