31 Aug Annie Get Your Gun hits bullseye

Nayland College’s recent production of the musical Annie Get Your Gun ran from Friday 5th August till Thursday 11th August. Here it is reviewed by student reporter, Isabella Lorandi.

How does one go about revising Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun to remove the racism that is shocking to even the whitest among us? It’s a question Nayland College’s production director Anton Bentley and musical director Nigel Weeks can answer. The original movie, released in 1950, features main character Annie Oakley running screaming from native Americans that are mostly referred to as “savages”. The refreshing changes that were made to this show originally in 1989 for Broadway delicately downplayed the racism by cutting out scenes slandering native Americans. It even appeased the feminist side of the audience, altering the ending to show Annie and her beau Frank Butler as equals.

Annie Oakley (Casey Crocker) is a wild lass who can’t count to 24 when she is selected to go up against Frank Butler (brilliantly portrayed by Elliot Cina) in a shooting contest. She soon learns that there truly is no business like show business, and falls in love with ladies’ man Frank along the way in a hilarious set of events. A brief separation of the pair leads to a priceless scene between Annie and a man who she believes to be Frank, a scene which Casey Crocker nails. Annie, being so delirious without Frank, kisses the poor guy while he is utterly bewildered. The rapport between these two characters was executed perfectly, making me forget I was watching a show.

The costumes, singing and dancing in this musical was charming. From the love scene between Tommy (Fynn Sawyer) and Winnie (Khailana Kendrick) to the set that transported the audience to a Wild West shooting contest, Annie Get Your Gun was a delight to watch. However, the shining light of Annie Get Your Gun was most certainly Dolly Tate.

How to describe Dolly Tate? Bitter, manipulative and desperate certainly comes to mind. Frank Butler’s scorned assistant stole the show thanks to dazzling performing by Ruby-Ann Burgess. She put her heart and soul into the character and her voice blew me away. The somewhat lovable character more than made up for the orchestra occasionally drowning out the sound of the performers (though they accompanied the show well otherwise). Dolly and the relationship that developed between her and Charlie (Oliver Stark) had the audience laughing hysterically. The desperation that Dolly felt about being single and her racist attitude were the cause of many funny lines and dramatic exits.

Although the Saturday viewing of Annie Get Your Gun was a touch too long at two hours, the music, acting, lights and the set immersed the audience into the show and time was often forgotten.