Focusing on one of the most notorious female pioneers of the Wild West, Annie Get Your Gun is set to be a Christmas musical like no other in Sheffield.
Holding a microscope to the restrictive nature of gender roles, the musical follows a fictionalized account of Annie Oakley – a fierce sharpshooter who can get anything with her gun but cannot seem to get what she yearns for most of all, a man.
Saluting the songwriting brilliance of Irving Berlin, the musical flaunts some of the most iconic tunes from the Golden Age of Broadway including ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’.
“It is a hymn to America in many ways,” reflects director Paul Foster, “The best of America. It’s an absolutely incredible score”
Adapted from the 1946 book by Dorothy and Herbert Field, the musical celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. However, Paul asserts that the story remains poignantly relevant to this day.
“It’s about the battle of the sexes, it’s about family, it’s about travel and I think it’s also about someone having incredible tenacity. Those issues will never date. But at the same time, we didn’t want it to be mothballed so we’ve tried to take a fresh look at the material and imagine the script just came in the post yesterday.”
One of the West End’s leading ladies, the fiercely talented Anna Jane Casey, is tackling the role of the female lead Annie Oakley. With an illustrious career spanning across the stages of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Grease, West Side Story and Billy Elliot, what attracted Anna to this role?
“She was perhaps one of the first feminists at that time and she was a complete maverick. She took on shooting – a feat that is usually associated with men – and she absolutely smashed it. She was the Lady Gaga of her time!”
Anna is described by the rest of the cast as the very definition of a triple threat; equally adept at acting, singing and dancing. It is a trait that choreographer Alistair David wholly appreciates. Alistair says that, for him, developing the choreography is a long and thoughtful process.
“I don’t know how anyone could walk into a studio and not have prepared everything. That sort of creative process, coming up with the shapes and steps, seems quite private to me actually.”
Annie was one of the first feminists of her time; she was a complete maverick.
Co-lead Ben Lewis is no stranger to musical theatre; he is well known for his portrayal of the Phantom in Love Me Tender. Yet some of the other cast members are just breaking into musical theatre for the first time.
Such as Maggie Service, who portrays the mean-spirited Dolly Tate. Having performed solely in theatre and television – appearing in the likes of Girl with a Pearl Earring, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf – Maggie has found her transition to musicals to be an exciting one.
“It’s exactly the same process as a regular play – you still need to be truthful and you need to mean what you say – but it just feels like there’s that extra sparkle.”
Due to popular demand, Annie Get Your Gun has extended its stay in Sheffield for an extra week. The Christmas musical will now open on Thursday 8 December at the Lyceum Theatre and will run until the Saturday 21 January. For tickets and more information, click here.