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Don't judge Harpenden's Annie by the cover

PUBLISHED: 16:55 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

THERE appeared to be something a little dated about the Harpenden Light Operatic Society s production of Annie Get Your Gun last week. The costumes and set looked as though they dated back to a style of amateur production quite common a decade or more ago

THERE appeared to be something a little dated about the Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Annie Get Your Gun last week.

The costumes and set looked as though they dated back to a style of amateur production quite common a decade or more ago.

But once the show got under way any thoughts that this was just another mundane amateur production were quickly dispelled for the cast quickly demonstrated that this was going to be a very modern, highly polished show.

Although Annie Get Your Gun is now rarely seen there is a lot of well known music in it - starting with the opening number There's No Business Like Show Business. And Sam Gaines as sharp-shooter Frank Butler immediately impressed.

There were fine performances from many of the society's regulars, including Tom Quinn as wild-west show manager Charlie Davenport, Gill Pilgrim as Frank Butler's lovelorn assistant Dolly Tate and Amanda Gains as the frosty hotel-keeper Mrs Foster Williams. But for me the real star of the show was Emma Barry as Annie Oakley, her first leading role with the society.

Although still at school, Emma demonstrated tremendous confidence and ability. Her voice was extremely good and versatile and her acting still showed a tremendous sense of timing.

Just as important to the success of the show was the first class effort from other characters, as well as the dancers and members of the chorus, even though some of the dance routines were severely restricted by the size of the stage.

Overall director Ian Fowles achieved a slick, modern production of the show packed with high quality singing and action and musical director Graham Thomson must equally be congratulated on the first class sounds which came from the orchestra pit.

This was exactly the standard of production we have grown to expect from the Harpenden Light Operatic Society over recent years and, with so many young members in the company, it bodes well for the future.

JOHN MANNING

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