Bognor Regis audiences are in for a rare treat with not one, but two Irving Berlin classics this autumn as the University of Chichester’s musical-theatre students take to the Alexandra Theatre stage in November with Annie Get Your Gun and White Christmas.
Resident producer Paul Ackerley said: “Both productions feature a West End live band, Annie Get Your Gun under the baton of English National Opera’s Richard Peirson, and White Christmas under the Broadway-experienced, Julian Kelly.
“Each production is inspirationally staged by Chichester’s resident senior director, Karen Howard whose Carousel was last year’s sell-out triumph and Ian Summers whose magical Cinderella had audiences spellbound.
“The spectacular choreography this year is by Chichester’s Damien Delaney and Drew Varley whose work has graced many a West End stage, from Billy Elliot to Cats. Finally, the designs will once again be created by Ryan Laight who imagined and realised last year’s visuals and costumes for the Rogers and Hammerstein double-bill.
“The Irving Berlin songs are legendary. From There’s No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do to Sisters and White Christmas. Where else are you going get twenty-five classic hits into four hours of musicals? And if you buy both at the same time you get the second production at half price!
“Annie Get Your Gun scored a bulls-eye with Ethel Merman taking the iconic female role of Annie Oakley in the 1946 Broadway production. When Annie joins Col Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and eclipses the male main attraction, he hightails it to join a rival show. It’s exceptional fun and one of the musical theatre stage’s enduring triumphs.
“White Christmas is based on the beloved, timeless film following war veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis with their successful song-and-dance who follow a duo of singing sisters to their Christmas show in Vermont where they revive the fortunes of the ailing venue run by their former army commander.
“A Christmas card come to life, it’s the perfect opportunity to usher in the seasonal fun.
“And it’s all brought to you by two casts of exceptional second-year students who are continuing in the footsteps of their now illustrious alumni who launched their undergraduate training in this traditional autumn calendar fixture.
Students Jenna McClean and Sunday James-Ross are playing the part of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun.
Jenna said: “We are now following in a tradition that has seen some really successful professional performers launch their professional careers on this stage, in this production.
“It’s a huge responsibility to the cast, to ourselves and to the audience to make each new production as good as the last. And it will be!’
Students Liam Asplen and Lauren Bullock who play Phil and Judy, have been rehearsing weekly for White Christmas since September.
Liam said: “This is a conservatoire-style training by the some of the best practitioners in the industry. It’s hard, exhausting technical work where only the best will do. But that’s fine, because we want to be the best!”
The shows premiere at The Alexandra Theatre, Regis Centre, Bognor Regis.
Annie Get Your Gun runs November 16-18 and White Christmas from November 23-25; tickets are available for the two shows from the theatre on 01243 861010.