Bob Eveleigh writes:
The Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society, is reviving Irving Berlin’s Broadway hit, Annie Get Your Gun, at the Savoy Theatre from May 26 to June 10.
This timeless classic, last staged by the group on the PE Opera House stage in 1995, reunites the 2017 Clover Showtime Award-winning combination of director Rose Cowpar and musical director Richard Campbell, with choreographer Bennie Gerber, who drew Showtime best dance staging honours in 2015.
This will be the PE premiere of the Broadway Tony Award-winning revival version of the musical from 1999, which had a revised book by Peter Stone, re-introduced the secondary boy/girl team of Winnie Tate and Tommy Keeler and dropped several songs (like I’m an Indian Too, Colonel Buffalo Bill and I’m A Bad Bad, Man), while re-introducing the two duets for the younger pair as well as An Old-Fashioned Wedding, which Irving Berlin wrote for the first Annie Get Your Gun revival in 1966.
The 1999 revision also includes far more dance sequences than the original 1946 Broadway presentation.
The lead role of Annie Oakley will be played by Tara-Jane Stern, who was last seen in full musical theatre in PE in principal roles in the 1995 and 1996 Clover Showtime revues, Alice in Theatreland and Alice in Movieland, but has since made a major name for herself in many singing appearances for Gary Hemmings’ Centrestage Productions.
Playing opposite her as suave lady’s man Frank Butler, in his first outing in full musical theatre in PE, will be another Hemmings discovery, Thuba Myeki.
The principal cast also features Jacques Batista, recently seen as Benedick in the PE Shakespearean Society’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, as Wild West Show barker, Charlie Davenport, and powerhouse past double Clover Showtime best supporting actress award-winner Caitlin Smith, as Dolly Tate.
The roles of Dolly’s sister, Winnie Tate, and her boyfriend Tommy Keeler, will be alternated by the teams of Abigail Ranwell and Khuselo Gqiba and Kerry-Lee Jeffrey and Phillip Cowie.,
Stage veteran Dennis Slattery, who was also in the 1995 G&S production, will play Chief Sitting Bull, while Charl Vollgraaff is Buffalo Bill and Annie’s siblings are Georgia-Jo Palmer, Brooklyn Plaatjies, Tathan Kersten and Joshua Louw.
Annie Get Your Gun relates the story of Annie Oakley, America’s greatest female sharpshooter, who went from backwoods hunter supporting her quartet of brothers and sisters to become the star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
It only takes one look for Annie to fall head over heels in love with handsome Frank Butler (whom she wed in real life) although beating him in a shooting contest is great for business but no good for romance.
The 1946 musical had long runs in both New York (1147 performances) and London, and was filmed by M-G-M in 1950, starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel, and there have been TV and many major Broadway and London revivals, plus countless stagings by community theatre groups around the world over the past 70 years.
This 1999 Tony-winning version starred Bernadette Peters as Annie, with stars such as TV’s Susan Lucci and country music headliner Reba McEntire, among her successors on the Great White Way. Peters won the Best Leading Actress in a Musical Tony and the production claimed the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
Almost the entire Berlin score consists of songs that have become standards, led by the showbiz anthem, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and hits as Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun, They Say It’s Wonderful, My Defences Are Down and Anything You Can Do.
The show will run from May 26 to June 10 at the Savoy Theatre and booking is already open at Computicket outlets.
Advance bookings for groups of 20 or more can be made by calling Rose Cowpar on 072 906 1977 – she will also assist with any general enquiries about any aspect of the show.