Annie Get Your Gun at The New Victoria Theatre Woking

The opening night of Annie Get Your Gun at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, I thought would make me feel a bit nostalgic, it was my Mum’s sort of thing. They type of musical that her and my aunts would talk about, if it was on TV she would stop during the ironing to watch, see the happy ever after. I wanted to see how it would be now. I just remembered the afternoons of TV, all of those musicals, all of those stars, nothing like our lives at all and when it was on and being younger loving it and being older, wearing black and avoiding the sun, rolling my eyes at these traditional things and old fashioned women.

Waiting for my 16 year old daughter in the foyer and seeing the other theatre goers walk in I knew I would have to head off the usual remarks that I got whenever I take them to accompany me on review nights so I sent her this text.

‘Just to say before you get here, this was the sort of thing we would’ve taken Grandma to. So remember that before you get sarky about the age group, and if you do get sarky, I’ll wet my knickers and pretend you are my carer. You may as well get used to it now.’

The thing about these musicals is they are the real deal, the actual thing about real people, before situations were made to be vehicles for a certain bands or artists songs as the more recent Mamma Mia and the like which brought the next generation of musical lovers to theatres. These were written by those who by the time we got to hear of them were the giants of their day – we didn’t know or consider their struggles to get where they were from the poverty they started. They were establishment and we were cynical and foolish it turns out.

As the real deal this doesn’t disappoint at all. The Irving Berlin musical predictably contains such old favourites as ‘There’s No Business like Show Business’ and ‘The Girl I Marry’ the songs that are in modern myth, you might not know where they are from but knows them regardless. The costumes and vocals were fantastic and Jason Donovan as Frank Butler plays with the aplomb of the greats of Broadway, the Howard Keels and the like. The bands accompaniment to the whole gave it a real old fashioned feel, but the night was stolen by Emma Williams. Her beautiful vocals, evoking tenderness, bravery, brashness and optimism and her perfect portrayal of a woman before her time yet vulnerable and strong by turns really made this role. The often ‘musical theatre’ vocal that is heard in musicals and makes me wince wasn’t present here just a pure, true voice.

Despairing at the Kardashian and TOWIE loving tastes in viewing my daughters have, little did I expect this to do the job for me showing them a story of an independent and skilled woman face the struggle of fulfilling her potential versus keeping her man happy, the land struggles of Native Americans and the racism they received as well. Annie 10, Kardashians 0 –  I did secret punch in the air as the bored ‘Oh yeah here I am, my turn to accompany Mum to one of her shows’ attitude changed and  I saw my daughter lean forward in her seat to see the decision Annie made on her own future. Yes, it happens all over, but she didn’t expect it here, and there was a bit of gloating as I pointed out that this was a real woman’s story. I think I blew the moment, the eyes rolled and shoulders shrugged. Again.

It really was a lovely night of music and song, a touching story. The women there my Mum’s age and had it been possible she would’ve been too,  I looked at again and remembered the days when these were the stories that lifted them out of the post war struggle and gave them a spring  in their young lives. These were the days when people walking off into the sunset was new and not a cliche and so lovely to see it happen again.

Annie Get Your Gun is at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre until Saturday 16 August. Jonathan Wilkes will be playing the role of Frank Butler on 16 August. Tickets can be booked via atgtickets.com/woking or 0844 8717645

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Survival with a teenage ‘gathering’ what we used to call having a few mates around or, the pathetic number of people my parents said was a party and that was because they wanted their friends round too

I’m sending texts to my daughter from the front room. She’s outside with 9 friends. I told her she could have six round. Her GCSE results come out in two weeks, I’m awaiting the Maths one with trepidation but it might be ok. Maybe they don’t do just basic counting up anymore.

If Child A wants friends round and her Mum says 6 how many can Child A actually have round?

(there’s two answers depending on whether you’re the Mum or, the child like the ones at my school in Biology about how to control population)

Mum: 6

Child A: If I ask 9 but tell them to move around alot and tell my Mum she’s just too old to keep up she’ll never know. So it is 9.

They never know that we watch them file in and count every single one in and out. I wish we could have clocking in machines in houses, like old factories, like Baldwin’s Casuals had in Coronation Street; maybe I could get some nylon knickers run up at the same time.

The texts I am sending are in block capitals now

STOP SHOUTING!!!!!

I’m shouting by text.

Actually the texts started nicely

‘Shut up Shouting!’

‘How about singing a dose of shut the eff up!’

STOP SHOUTING!!!

SHUT UP!!!!!!

They were singing earlier, I thought it was punishment enough. It was really loud. It was Robbie Williams Angels song. They sounded like fecking angle grinders.

I’m in a punk band for fecks sake, I thought I was supposed to ruin their street cred.

I’ve decided to write a survival manual, based on this and the fact a couple I know announced a pregnancy today and might need it in 16 years.

WAYS TO DEAL WITH TEENAGERS SHORT OF USING A BORDER COLLIE AND A CATTLE PROD.

ALWAYS SAY NO ALCOHOL do that nice parent thing of ‘oh well I thought they could have a few cans of low alcohol lager*’ and you have opened up a GREY AREA. NEVER open up a GREY AREA. (unless in extreme circumstances and all else fails allowing a bathrobe to fall open to watch them running to the edges of your estate (council not country) in demented disgust – job done though) * bear in mind low alcohol anything these days is what Buster Bloodvessel was singing about in the early 80’s. You also don’t want to open up the possibility that you might share some of yours

Then:

1. When their friends arrive keep walking around looking balefully at them like Mrs Danvers.  Everytime they go upstairs to ‘put their sleepover stuff away’ (hide their alcohol) go upstairs and fold something on the landing. Try and master a gliding motion so it seems you have no legs (this bit is not entry level and should only be attempted by people who either work from home and have to slide about the kitchen in socks to kill time or work in really boring jobs in places with shiny floors and a boss with an uncontrollable sphincter who needs many toilet breaks, or who were schooled by nuns and had many years to watch people at the pinnacle of inexplicable hovering and sliding do it)

At this stage DO NOT BE FRIENDLY AT ALL.

Even if they’re really polite do look at them in a ‘I’ve got your numbaaa’ way and do that thing where you point to them and your eyes a few times to show you have your eye on them. Again, anyone who works from home will have the advantage here as there is often time spent in the mirror doing Robert De Niro Taxi Driver or Harvey Keitel Goodfellas impressions during the working day. You can also feel good about yourself for doing it – time not wasted but committed to parenting skills (work/life balance)

Walking into the middle of any gathering and leaving a packet of Tena Lady on the breakfast bar is always a good conversations stopper. It is an age thing – after kids or with very funny friends this would be seen as being a good hostess, teenagers somehow don’t get this.

Walking out in a bath robe with hands on hips and just standing there staring activates their Oh Shit that Mother is Fucked Off! trigger hopefully. If not mouth ‘SHUT UP’ through the window.

Finally, if the noise is too much, the music is loud just remember, the fusebox is inside and most back doors lock. Pull the electricity and lock the feckers out.