Annie Get Your Gun, a musical written by Irving Berlin has been delighting audiences since 1946, with the first production produced in Melbourne in 1967 staring Evie Hayes. It was performed again in 2004 starring Marina Prior.
Diamond Valley Singers (DVS) is a true community theatre company. Since its inception in 1985, the company has donated over $150,000.00 to different charities both near and far. No one involved with any of their productions get paid, and they all pitch in to build sets, sew costumes, and do whatever is needed to keep the company up and running. They also have a vast and varied program throughout the year, trying to meet the needs of all in its community.
DVS have made every effort to impress for their current production. Director Merinda Gallagher had a vision of what this show could be, and she has successfully delivered a production that larger companies in Melbourne would envy. The ensemble for all Diamond Valley Singers’ productions do not have to audition, so Gallagher has had to use whoever turned up on the day. Gallagher cleverly blended all cast members, so it was not obvious which of the ensemble had not even stood on a stage before opening night.
Claire Colthup’s choreography was simple yet well thought out, giving those who could not dance other things to do, which still made sense within each song.
DVS always use the Eltham Orchestra for their productions. I really cannot say what was going on in the pit on opening night, as there were definitely timing and tuning issues as well. Musical director Ian Lowe needs to ensure all instruments are tuned, and that he keeps a tight rein on them.
The sets and costumes suited the piece and worked well in the space. Keeping the lighting up always helps during scene changes, and I’m glad Gallagher chose this option.
The sound for the most part was clear, and the dialogue could be heard over the rather loud orchestra.
Sophia Bubner led the cast as Annie Oakley, and was in fine voice for opening night. Bubner really captured the vulnerability and the feistiness of Annie Oakley, which is not an easy thing to do. Suave Wade Robinson was born to play Frank Butler. His matinee good looks, coupled with his rich baritone voice, made him a perfect choice for the role of Frank.
Antony Steadman and Nicola Ramsay played Buffalo Bill Cody and Dolly Tate to great effect. Damon Holmes and Charli Lewis bought their youthfulness to the parts of Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate.
Malcolm Wilton’s years of experience really shone through as Charlie Davenport, and Steve Wilkie was great to see as Chief Sitting Bull.
The three children were delightful as Annie’s siblings. As they were double cast, I’m not really sure which children performed because according to the program we were supposed to have three girls on opening night. The youngest was Solveig Yen as little Jake. Yen stole the hearts of everyone in the audience with her very tuneful rendition of ‘Doin what come natur’lly’.
The ensemble always gave 100 percent, which was great to see. All in all, DVS has a successful show on its hands. I hope they have a sell out season!