Roll up! Roll up! See Annie Oakley, the best little sharpshooter in the west!
Roll up! Roll up! See possibly the most misguided, misfiring musical revival to go off half cock EVER.
Roll up! Roll up! Begin to forget what showbusiness is, never mind whether or not any other business might bear some resemblance to it.
Notes found in the gutter of The Cut after the Monday 5th October preview of Annie Get Your Gun:
List Of The Final Few Rough Edges To Be Smoothed Off Before Opening Night on the 16th October
(If found, please return to radical opera director Richard Jones immediately)
- Check with the theatre: will there be people sitting throughout the auditorium?If so will have to re-think the set as people sitting on the left won’t be able to see into the bedroom.
- Also, the screen door may obscure the views for people sitting at the front of the stalls.
- Also, people towards the back of the stalls won’t be able to see anything if there are people sitting in the row in front of them. Must remember to introduce seating rake or strip out every other row of seating.
- Remember to ask Ultz to have another think about his “recessed letter-box Portakabin* in Cinemascope” set design. Making it very difficult to have people do anything other than move to the left or to the right. (Thank goodness there’s no choreography in my radical reinvention of the classic musical! Would be impossible. lol!) Must think more like Sir Trev, more Old Vic: deepen stage so cast don’t have to line dance though. Far too much like window ledge. Cast keep threatening to jump. Can’t think why.
- Oh, must organise getting some proper programmes printed instead of photocopied sheets.
- Thought I heard riots outside before we went up tonight. Apparently there are no numbers printed on the tickets or on the seats. Seems a bit unprofessional. Must have a word with the theatre about it as the audience were looking very grumpy before we even started.
- Before press night, I MUST MUST MUST decide which period it’s set in. I WILL decide. Difficult though. I like the fifties diner Fablon set on the right hand side of the stage but I also like our Churchill, Chairman Mao and Hitler gags. Obviously it’s really set in the 1880s but then again the show was written in 1946. Hmmm. Might not have time to sort this all out before press night (16th Oct). May just have to say it’s “timeless” or something.
- Overheard someone complaining about the use of four upright saloon pianos instead of an orchestra! Ridiculous! The musical is never going to get a radical overhaul if people cling to silly, old-fashioned ideas about orchestras and orchestrations.
- And besides, the tinkling saloon bar pianos set the scene perfectly during the overture. Them and the wagon wheel chandeliers really put the audeince in mind of the old Wild West until the curtain goes up and… well, you’re in a fifties diner. Yes, must remember to say it’s “timeless”.
- May have to turn down the Going For A Song bird noises piped over the action for the first hour. People can’t hear the dialogue apparently. They are SUCH reactionaries. Honestly. Get with the times people.
- Hmmm. Anyway, people still can’t hear the dialogue when the tweeting stops. Wonder if this set and its ceiling are causing havoc with the acoustics. Must have another word with Ultz.
- Is it too late to think about someone else for the role of Annie Oakley? Heard someone say Jane Horrocks is horribly shrill and poorly enunciated. Something about “gurning” and “Little wonder she made her name playing Little Voice” and “Is that her making that noise or is it Ethel Merman spinning in her grave?”
- Think most of JH’s songs may be in the wrong key. Does she have a right key? Must sort that out before we open.
- Think happy thoughts! Oh, I laugh every time we use that conveyor belt with trees and stuff on it to denote the movement of the train. I think we should make the loading and unloading of it more laboured as sometimes I’m getting distracted by the scene being played in front of it.
- Someone described the staging of “I Got the Sun in the Morning” as “shambolic”. Well, what do they expect when the whole cast is crammed into a recessed letter-box Portakabin* in Cinemascope with no headroom. I’d like to see them try it!
- Heard someone complaining we cut “An Old Fashioned Wedding”. I know it’s a great old-fashioned (if you care for that sort of thing) musical comedy number but, really, how would you use the conveyor belt? People just don’t think about these things.
- Still, “Anything You Can Do” went down very well with the audience and that didn’t have a conveyor belt. Maybe I should cut it before the opening night just to be on the safe side.
On the plus side:
- Glad we decided to give the ensemble some nice harmonies to sing.
- Must remember to congratulate Julian Ovenden for his musical star quality. Although I heard someone saying he is the lone repository of the spirit of musical theatre in the entire production so perhaps he’s not really radical enough for my vision. Perhaps I should sack him. “My Defenses Are Down” applauded very enthusiastically.
- Think the live chicken went down well with the audience. (Glad I snapped her up after seeing her in Jerusalem. Ultz spoke very highly of her).
* Note from lawyers:”Portakabin” is a registered trade mark of Portakabin Limited for a modular office building system not a generic term for a temporary on-site building.