Words by Herbert & Dorothy Fields and Music by Irving Berlin
Nuffield Theatre,
January 2003
Cast List
Annie Oakley
Frank Butler
Charlie Davenport
Dolly Tate
Buffalo Bill
Chief Sitting Bull
Pawnee Bill
Foster Wilson
Mrs Sylvia Potter-Porter
Wild Horse
Rising Star
Little Jake

Notes on this performance

98. Annie Get Your Gun

Let’s do the show right here…

At 27 years of age, Adam Case become the youngest SOS Chairman ever (by a long way) when he took over from Alan Morgan, who retired at the AGM. The first production that he would have to deal with was a new one to the Society, Annie Get Your Gun, and he was fortunate that someone with a fine reputation in musical theatre, Malcolm Clarke from RAODS, had already agreed to direct the show, whilst Paul Spanton made a welcome return as the MD.

The three of them organised open auditions for the principal parts and they were deemed a great success and an experiment well worth repeating. Realistic fake guns were purchased, mainly for this production but also as a long term investment and Richard Faulds MBE, an Olympic gold medallist in shooting, attended a rehearsal to give some tuition and ensure that the main characters did not look like total novices.  

Annie Get Your Gun contained several big company dance numbers and Malcolm relied on Anita Pritchard to choreograph these. Once learnt, the routine for There’s No Business Like Show Business was used as a warm-up at every rehearsal. Another number, Wild Horse Ceremonial Dance required the company to be transformed into Native American Indians; the movements involved synchronised turning of heads (in the same direction - not as easy as it sounds) whilst Wild Horse (Phil Cheesman) performed some impressive high kicks and acrobatic dance steps. After encountering sound problems in Kiss Me Kate, it was resolved to use radio mics for this production but even these were redundant when, one evening, the fire alarm went off. Everyone was evacuated and left to shiver outside - an unfortunate episode which was improved by the company reprising There’s No Business for the good natured audience.

The Echo review rightly focussed on the two main leads but also mentioned some strong performances from the supporting principals: ‘Alexandra Dunn performs the challenging part of Annie with great gusto and has a wonderful singing voice. Smoothie sharp-shooter Frank Butler is played by Mike Pavitt, who also has a superb voice, and both leads keep their American accents very well. The duet “Anything You Can Do” was a real showstopper that captured the rivalry between these love-birds with great comic timing.

David Rayner puts in a good cameo as Chief Sitting Bull and accomplished supporting roles come from Colin Pritchard as the showbiz manager Charlie Davenport and Colin Sly as Buffalo Bill.’ The reviewer, having shown appreciation for the show, then ended by criticising it and possibly turning away potential customers; ‘Overall though, the show didn’t quite hit the target. It needed more pace and was hampered by some first-night problems.’

It was anticipated that the costs of the scenery, costumes and royalties would be high, so the budget required Annie Get Your Gun to take £14000. Unfortunately, it fell short of that figure by £865 and, ironically, the production made a loss of £863.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Annie and Frank

Alexandra Dunn (Annie Oakley) and Mike Pavitt (Frank Butler)

Photo of Sitting Bull

Colin Pritchard (Charlie Davenport), David Rayner (Chief Sitting Bull), Alexandra Dunn (Annie Oakley), Colin Sly (Buffalo Bill)

Photo of Ceremonial Dance

Wild Horse Ceremonial Dance: centre - David Rayner (Chief Sitting Bull) and Phil Cheesman (Wild Horse)

Photo of Phil and Jo

Wild Horse Ceremonial Dance: Phil Cheesman (Wild Horse) with Jo Short (Rising Star)

Photo of Frank

Mike Pavitt (Frank Butler) with Jonathan Fulcher (Pawnee Bill) and Anita Pritchard (Dolly Tate)

Photo of Contest

The Contest: Mike Pavitt (Frank Butler), Colin Sly (Buffalo Bill), Alexandra Dunn (Annie Oakley)