Emma Williams just loves playing the strong, feisty women, and she’s got a cracker at the moment.
Emma, who originated the role of Jenny in the musical version of Love Story in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre a few years ago, has now become Annie in Annie Get Your Gun at Brighton Theatre Royal from Tuesday-Saturday, August 26-30.
“It’s one of those shows which you grow up as an actress just really hoping that you will be able to do one day, that there will be a production around when you are the right age and that you will get the part!”
With classic songs including There’s No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better, Annie Get Your Gun tells the story of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West female sharpshooter, Annie Oakley and her romance with fellow sharpshooter, Frank Butler.
When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to town, it takes only one glance for sharp-shooting country girl Annie Oakley to fall head over heels with its star marksman, Frank Butler. Both have truly met their match, revealing their competitive natures as they vie for best shot – and each other’s hearts.
“It’s a great story, and I love doing those strong, feisty parts. There aren’t enough around! And it is lovely to be doing the Broadway revival version of the show.”
In other words, the version which cuts out elements which these days would now be regarded as sexist and racist. As Emma says, it evens things out a bit: “This is a version where everybody sacrifices something for everybody else. These were all changes made about 15 years ago, but it is the first time that it has been done over here.”
Emma retains huge affection for Love Story which received its premiere as a chamber musical in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, a piece she’d been involved with from the start, from the earliest workshop stage.
“I had worked on it for four years before Chichester, and I adored every moment of it. I think it is one of the greatest acting roles in musical theatre that any actress could come up for, and I have made some really good friends through it. And Chichester was the most wonderful place to play it. It’s such a lovely theatre environment there. Everybody is so supportive. It’s nice to be in a theatre where the audience is so faithful.”
It was right that the show was done in the Minerva, not the main-house: “One of the pleasures of Love Story was that works in such an intimate way. It works best when the audience are almost in the same room as the cast. It’s a very different show to Annie Get Your Gun where the music is big and bold. There was a lovely delicacy to Love Story that had to have an intimate setting. Annie Get Your Gun is very different.”
For a start, it’s a story based on real-life people: “She really did exist, and I wouldn’t say that that defines your performance, but it certainly influences it. She was this astonishing shot and really did fall for the champion sharpshooter.”
Adding to it all is the fact that it still strikes a chord.
At the time she lived, Annie was seen to be standing up for women’s rights. At the time the musical was created, she was still seen as standing up for women’s rights. There is even a line in the show about equal pay for men and women.
And even now, the play still has plenty to say in that respect: “There are plenty of places where women’s rights are still an issue,” Emma says. Tickets 0844 871 7650.