Friday, December 04, 2009

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ by Irving Berlin

4 December 2009

Last Saturday we were at the Young Vic in London to see Irving Berlin’s ‘Annie Get Your Gun’. It was a marvellous evening: I left the theatre grinning and whistling the tunes (which is more difficult than it sounds!). I hadn’t seen ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ before but I was very familiar with many of the songs which have become standards. It’s hard to believe that ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, ‘Anything You Can Do’, ‘I Got the Sun in the Morning’ and ‘Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly’ all came from this one show. Irving Berlin certainly knew how to write a good tune and had the knack of creating musical comedy that was genuinely funny: there are some great laugh-out-loud lyrics. The Young Vic production was lots of fun: it’s a relatively small theatre so you get to see the cast close-up and, while there was some very witty use of fairly low-tech props and stagecraft, the gimmicks were used sparingly so that the focus was on the acting and the singing. Jane Horrocks as Annie Oakley is a real star: it’s hard to take your eyes off her even during the ensemble pieces. Her face, movement and voice are excellent: she’s a compelling performer and it was great to see her in such an intimate venue. Jason Carr’s musical arrangements for four upright pianos which buttress the front of the stage conjured up the atmosphere of a Wild West saloon and the singing was excellent. A really enjoyable evening in the theatre.

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