After enjoying her first dose of outdoor theatre in New Theatre Productions’ excellent 2017 summer production of Entertaining Angels, Angela Barber is now launching into her first musical in 15 years.
Appropriately enough, she will have 15 songs to sing as Annie in the Walberton Players’ new staging of Annie Get Your Gun – a production which marks their 40th anniversary this year.
The production runs in Walberton Village Hall from Wednesday to Saturday, October 25-28 (tickets on 01243 552882).
The show is Angela’s second with the company, after A Chorus of Disapproval last year.
“I started on the stage when I was 20, which is some 20 plus years ago, doing musicals while I was at college in Taunton in Somerset. After we moved to Abingdon, I started doing plays for quite a long time, and then I had a ten-year break to have my children.
“My return was about three years ago with the Chichester Players. I did Joseph Andrews, and that was great. I was very glad to be back on stage. It was a bit daunting to start with, going through the process of learning the lines, not having done it for a while. But I enjoyed it, and I went on to do a couple more plays with them.”
Then this summer came Entertaining Angels at West Dean: “It was very different in terms of voice projection, having to fight with birds and trees and buses and fire engines! And also with the weather. But we only had one night rained off. We were lucky.”
Now Angela is back indoors for a return to the world of musicals, again a different prospect: “The characterisation is quite different, and there are more expectations with the music and the costumes and the glitz and the glamour of the whole thing.
“I am Annie. Annie is pretty feisty. There is no daintiness about Annie, nothing womanly at all, but during the show she learns more about being a woman.”
Part of the interest is the fact that Annie is a real person. She really did exist. And inevitably, think Annie, and lots of people will think Betty Hutton in the 1950 film version (if they remember it wasn’t Doris Day).
“But so many people have done Annie in the past that I just want to try to find my own way to do it. I am just trying to think what it would have been like to live when she did back then.”
Angela is pleased with the way the production is shaping up: “It is coming together nicely. We are all working hard. The music is obviously a big part of it, and there are a lot of harmonies to learn. I think for Annie, it is a massive challenge. She has got the typical big raucous songs to sing, but she has also got some lovely ballads, some more lyrical songs.
“There is quite a variety of styles of music. It’s trying to maintain the accent that is quite hard!”
But Annie is a genuine pleasure to play: “I didn’t expect to get that part, not having done musicals for such a long time.”
As for why she does it, Angela admits it is pure escapism. Not that there is anything she is particularly wishing to escape from.
“But I have got two young children. My life is geared around them.
“I am doing the school runs, and I am ferrying them around. They keep me busy with homework and after-school activities.
“It is great to do something just for me. When I am doing this, I can really be me – by not being me! That’s the escapism!”