THE familiar tune of There’s No Business Like Show Business, from the Irving Berlin classic musical Annie Get Your Gun, will soon be heard belting out at venues across the UK as part of a six month UK tour of the Tony award-winning show.
The show is based on a true story of Annie Oakley, who was an incredible sharpshooter, and her competitive romance with rival marksman Frank Butler.
They both worked for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Circus. Buffalo Bill was an American soldier, bison hunter and showman. Hence the song. And this production of Annie Get Your Gun is also a ‘show within a show’ as the centre of the stage is the circus big top where the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show takes place, while the remainder of the action takes place on the rest of the stage.
Director Ian Talbot said: “It’s also got the most wonderful score with one hit after another. Incredible to think that Annie was a real person, so ahead of her time.”
Annie, who sings Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, was a 19th Century proto-feminist. She is played by the equally gutsy Emma Williams.
Mr Talbot added: “Emma’s got all the right qualities to play the role of Annie Oakley. She’s feisty and has a voice to die for. She’s so conscientious she’s gone off and had trapeze lessons to give her a head start. It’s a hugely demanding role.”
Frank Butler is played by Jason Donovan.
“The characters have a special chemistry,” Miss Williams said.
“We have been having an absolute blast. I have an array of weaponry in the show – rifles, pistols and I’m having a whale of a time playing with them. I don’t know if I’d trust myself with any real ammo.”
Emma is a two-time Olivier nominee and says that she aims to be ‘more ripped than I’ve ever been at the end of this tour. It’s all part of maintaining a show like this, being physically strong.’
Emma is indeed sharp. She is a MENSA member who takes everything in her very capable stride.
She said: “I am doing a lot of circus training at the moment – stilt walking, juggling. We’ve got a trapeze as well.
“Annie was a real trick shot. She used to shoot over her shoulder using a mirror and she could hit things without looking.
“Buffalo Bull decides that having a girl who can shoot fantastically and looks great, which was rare in those times, should be their star attraction.
“She does this amazing trick and unfortunately it’s the one thing that may make her lose Frank, the love of her life, when she thinks it’s going to be the one thing that will make him fall at her feet.”
Jason Donovan is excited too. He is now a musical theatre veteran, from Joseph to Priscilla.
So how would Jason describe Annie Get Your Gun to anyone who has never seen the show or film before?
“It’s a love story, essentially and it’s about opposites,” he said.
“Annie and Frank are complete opposite people; the tables turn and they end up falling in love, and he ends up becoming a bit of a puppy dog after her. But initially he’s a very confident character.”
Annie Get Your Gun is a classic musical and Jason is keen to point out the timeless appeal of Irving Berlin’s writing.
He said: “It’s an incredible musical with some really great songs such as There’s No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better. There are lots of famous songs that people will recognise but not necessarily realise come from this show, so it will be good to show audiences how those songs tie in to the story of Annie Get Your Gun.”
A star so confident in his own skin, Jason doesn’t even need to be the star. “The crux of this show is Annie Get Your Gun, not Frank Get Your Gun, and I have no problem with that. I think with musical theatre I have a currency and I hope my audience will buy a ticket.”
The show comes to Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre from Tuesday, July 1 to Saturday, July 5.
More information is available by visiting www.anniegetyourgunthemusical.com