Annie Get Your Gun (Tour – Manchester)

Emma Williams plays the sharp shooter and you cannot take your eyes off her in this touring revival

Emma Williams as Annie Oakley
Emma Williams as Annie Oakley
©Alastair Muir

Annie Get Your Gun has many well known songs, including "There's No Business Like Show Business", but it's "Anything You You Can Do" which highlights both this touring production's strengths and flaws.

The song is a duet between Emma Williams (a dazzling Annie Oakley) and Jason Donovan (a barely there Frank Butler), so when the line "sing sweeter, hold a note longer" arrives, you see the strength of the leading lady and the deficiencies of the leading man, as he's simply miscast.

Paul Fansworth's sparse set would be more suitable for a 'songs from Annie Get Your Gun concert', as this is what it the big top design resembles. Luckily, the swings and ensemble fill the stage, plugging the gaps with ease. The first half of the show has more than its share of flat moments, as you can barely hear Donovan as he is continually out- sung by everyone else and this makes his character redundant.

Act two, though, picks up the pace and Lizzie Gee's choreography includes some thigh slapping and so much energy that it leaves you with a big smile on your face. The visible on-stage band also pep things up and clearly enjoy playing, and this adds a touch of class to this patchy production.

Norman Pace is a great narrator/guide as Buffalo Bill, Kara Lane has a belter of a voice as Dolly Tate, and Lorna Want's (Winnie Tate) vocals are as soothing as honey.

But the night belongs to Williams. She drags the show by the scruff of its checked shirt and kicks it in touch on more than one occasion. She can't speed up Ian Talbot's production when the action flags, but she has a bloody good try.

She is proof that while TV stars may get people to buy tickets, musical theatre actors of her ilk keep you gripped to your seat as she's simply "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and the show is worth seeing for her alone.

Annie Get Your Gun is at the Manchester Opera House until 24 May and is touring the UK.