Nothing says ‘Christmas at The Crucible’ like a guns-blazing musical.
Annie Get Your Gun opens with an a capella vocal from male lead Ben Lewis (Frank Butler) at the back of the audience which soon picks up pace as the entire ensemble moves onto the set to perform a high energy routine to ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’.
And what a number! Irving Berlin’s musical has all the fluff of a Rogers and Hammerstein classic like Oklahoma, but more of the sass of an earlier Cole Porter production such as a previous Crucible favourite, Anything Goes.
We perhaps need to try and forgive some of the less politically correct attitudes that reflect the time when this was first written for Broadway back in 1950s America. The story was taken from a real life heroine Annie Oakley dating back to the 1860’s when women ‘knew their place’ and Native Americans were not considered equal.
That said the book’s humorous tone clearly mocks the attitudes played out by its characters which makes it palatable for a modern-day audience.
So as we follow the story of romance within a travelling Wild West show, we are treated to huge dance numbers in fringed chaps and bustle dresses.
The Crucible’s clever set never disappoints and the audience felt like they were on the stage with the cast.
Sharp shooting Annie was played by the amazing Anna-Jane Casey.She really owned the stage with her precise dance movements and big voice.
With a few more big dance numbers that did not disappoint, the cast packed as much punch as a pistol popping a glitter balloon.
However the highlight for me was the Anything You Can Do number where Annie and Frank have a huge feud by song which was not only well sung but well played out with pure aggression and humour.
Anna-Jane sang You Can’t Get a Man With A Gun beautifully and with that sweetness her dreams came true giving us the perfect happy ending.
The Crucible always manages to bring an excellent production to its stage for Christmas and this is another one that you cannot miss. It plays in Sheffield until January 21.