Review: Annie Get Your Gun, Belper Musical Theatre

annie get your gunBelper Musical Theatre has hit the bull’s eye with its latest production – Annie Get Your Gun.

The team staged the colourful and lively show with plenty of panache and a whole heap of enthusiasm.

Annie Get Your Gun is a show within a show and tells the story of Colonel Buffalo Bill Cody’s famous Wild West Show and the tempestuous on/off romance of sharp shooters Annie and the chauvinistic Frank Butler.

This version, revised by Peter Stone in 1999, has been updated to be a little more social acceptable than the 1940s original but you still have to remember that some of the lines are from a bygone era.

The one element of this Irving Berlin classic which has given it is enduring popularity is its astonishing collection of songs and this group made sure that they had the perfect cast to perform them in this stellar production.

There was impressive dancing, some hilarious comic moments and just the right amount of aaaah moments when it came to the charming young siblings of Ms Oakley. And to top it all the ten-strong orchestra was performing as part of the set on stage.

Jen Lewis has been a passionate member of the Belper Musical Theatre for more than a decade and she was absolutely fabulous as Annie.

Her powerful voice took the house down and each number was met with rapturous applause. I Got The Sun In The Morning was a triumph. There was no way anyone could have left the building without humming one of the tunes.

As the dashing leading man, Chris Grantham had a challenge on his hands to match up to her but he pulled it off with a commanding stage presence. He was terrific in their toe-tapping duets An Old Fashioned Wedding and Anything You can Do.

As the supporting romantic leads Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate played by Dominic Osin and Hannah Beastall were a delight and are certainly ones to watch for the future – even though they are already stalwarts of the stage they are still young guns.

Their singing and dancing in the rendition of Who Do You Love, I Hope? was thoroughly enjoyable.

Sarah Stone as the indomitable Dolly Tate headed up the comic players with a commendable performance and David Orange as the mincing Foster Wilson was a scream.

The whole show was extremely slick – it had to be as there was a large cast moving around at speed on what is a relatively small stage.

The set design and construction was spot on and they made a very clever use of minimal props. I was particularly impressed by the creation of the bunk beds for the little ‘uns.

Congratulations must go to all the production team but particularly to director Larry Waller who was new to the team and not a man who has worked with a lot of musicals.

If you want a great family night out with some rousing sing-a-long music then get yourselves down to the community theatre at Belper School. The show is on until Saturday with a matinee that day. For more details go to

The rest of the cast were: Matthew Shaw, as Charlie Davenport; Ian Jennison, Buffalo Bill; Brian Counter, Chief Sitting Bull; Mike Osborne, Pawnee Bill.

The dancers were Lucy Hassall, Megan Harman, Charlie Orme and Jess Hutton. The children the night artsbeat went along were Jess Allinson, Jess Henshall, Daniel Shaw and Jess Waller. The children for some of the other shows were Daisy Bunting, Molly Hewitt-Richards, Oscar Hewitt-Richards and Anya Staton.

The orchestra were Helen Shelton, drums; Jeff Widdowson, bass; John Hudson, keys; Tim Wright, guitar; Sophia Rudd, reed I; Paul Scott, reed II; Chris Toon, reed III; Gordon Truman, trumpet I, Mathew Knowles, trumpet II and Guy Burrows, trombone.

The rest of the production team were: musical director, Dave Adey; choreographer, Becky Dunning; assistant director Elizabeth Brooks; production assistant Sophie Mander.

The support team were: prompt, Anne Dunning; production co-ordinator, Richard Poole; stage manager, Richard Harman; set design and construction, Ian Jennison; artistic design, Carolyn Hardy; lighting and sound, Paul Frost, Nigel Johnson, Henry Pratt; projection Darren Salt and Mark Jennison; audiovisual design Louis Vella and Jamie Vella; props master, Pete Neale, assisted by Sophie Mander and Katy Neale; wardrobe, Mary Jackson, assisted by Judith Marsden, Helen Allsop, Rachel Allsop and Val Stone.

Front of house, Helen Beastall assisted by Bridgette Dolman-Milner, Maureen Hodgkinson, Howard Jackson, Alison Jennison, Lucy Jennison, Phoebe Jennison, Ron Mander, Sue Manning, Judith Marsden, Barbara Matin, Chris Moorcroft, Steve Morcroft, Linda Oldknow, Daniel Shaw, Sue Shaw, Andrea Sparham, John Stone, Val Stone, Cerys Swift and Eilisha Swift.