Back on stage with a big bang

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ leading cast members Tara Jane Stern as Annie Oakley and Thuba Myeki as Annie’s love interest, Frank Butler

The Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society is bringing the heartwarming musical classic Annie Get Your Gun to the Savoy Theatre next week.

Leading the cast is Tara Jane Stern, who will play “sharpshooter” Annie Oakley, while former boyband member Thuba Myeki will play Annie’s love interest, Frank Butler.

Stern said she was thrilled to be returning to the stage for the role of Annie, after last having been on a musical stage 22 years ago for the same production under Robin Williams.

“It’s a real classic and when Robin first hosted the production in Port Elizabeth back in 1995, I was an understudy to the lead, Julie Dickson,” Stern said.

The wife and mother of two said it was “quite interesting going back”.

“I thought it would be easier but there were obviously quite a few cobwebs,” she chuckled.

Myeki, a former top 14 Idols SA contestant who has featured on soapies such as Generations Legacy, Rhythm City and Greed and Desire, said the role of Frank was perfect for him because he liked the character, who was confident and “a hopeless romantic”.

“Frank is confident, good at what he does and self-aware. When he meets Annie, people get to see his soft side and his vulnerability. Just like Frank, I’m also confident but people might confuse that for arrogance,” he said.

Directed by Showtime award-winning director Rose Cowpar, Annie Get Your Gun is the story of Annie Oakley, America’s greatest female sharpshooter, who went from backwoods hunter supporting her brothers and sisters to the star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

“Annie had no education but was a very good sharpshooter. She basically met Frank one day when she was selling off her animals and she eventually went from bush dweller to a refined show person,” Stern explained.

Myeki, a former member of Centrestage boyband Escape, said being in the musical with Stern was an added bonus as they knew each other well from their Centrestage days and had been friends for about eight years.

“Tara was the one who actually gave me a call regarding Frank and Annie Get Your Gun. A day before the reading auditions she asked if I was interested in being in a musical and I agreed even though it had been a long time since I’d done theatre,” Myeki said.

“Doing a musical has also brought back my fire. Since coming back from Johannesburg last year from working in television, I had kind of lost that fire and now Annie Get Your Gun has ignited it once more,” he said.

Stern began performing at the age of six and comes from a musical family.

“Performing is in my blood and once it’s in there, it becomes quite difficult to ignore it.

“Having a history with the show was quite a drawcard and may have influenced my decision to return to the stage,” she said.

With a cast of 40 people, joining Myeki and Stern will be Jacques Batista, Charlie Davenport and powerhouse past double Clover Showtime best supporting actress award-winner Caitlin Smith as Dolly Tate.

Musical direction by Richard Campbell and choreography by Bennie Gerber.

  • The show will run from Friday to June 10 and tickets at R100 are available at Computicket.

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