The Blog

Cowboys and Coffee: 'Annie Get Your Gun' Opens in Stoke

This week has been brought to you by coffee. Also the occasional Berocca and multiple bacon sandwiches from Stoke's Zest Cafe, but mainly coffee.

This week has been brought to you by coffee. Also the occasional Berocca and multiple bacon sandwiches from Stoke's Zest Cafe, but mainly coffee.

As a long term insomniac, coffee has been something of a go-to in my daily life. I generally survive on about 3-4 hours of sleep a night, so I'm practically sponsored by the stuff. It's my wake-up call, my afternoon relaxer and my book-reading beverage of choice. Even now I'm sitting here in a lovely coffee shop, writing away on my iPad with a steaming mug of (decaf) Americano. A mild roast, with a dash of skimmed milk, sort of biscuit-coloured and utterly delicious. On a busy job like Annie Get Your Gun however, coffee has become something of a ritual. That first sip of morning coffee from my 'Geeky Cat' mug, as my hair is pinned and wrapped into submission, is truly joyous. It's also utterly necessary, as this week we've been working longer hours again, as we prepared Jonathan Wilkes, our Alternate Frank Butler, for his first shows on Saturday in Stoke.

Whilst the show has settled into something of a routine now (although the fit-up and tech days are still pretty full-on), finding the time for rehearsals has been tough. The team have tried to make sure that we don't work too hard, staggering the calls and bearing the brunt of them themselves, in order to prevent unwanted injury or illness. Watching Dance Captain Jonny Godbold give not only his rendition of Little Jake, Buffalo Bill and Foster Wilson, but also Dolly Tate and Annie Oakley was, well, mesmeric. And hilarious. He and Jonathan make a lovely couple that's for sure! But seriously, it's truly a credit to Jonathan that after so little actual time with the company, he managed to give two outstanding first performances.

Jonathan's Frank is a completely different, but equally wonderful, interpretation to Jason's, which certainly keeps the rest of us on our toes and it's fantastic for me to get to play opposite both versions, especially in the same week! It was particularly nice for Jonathan, being a Stokie, to play his first shows in his home town whilst Jason fulfilled commitments to a prior engagement elsewhere in the country. They truly are two of the hardest working men in showbiz!

Everyone else is also working ultra hard though as the audition season for productions this autumn/winter has kicked off with a vengeance. The tour currently finishes in October and it's vital that we keep ourselves in the loop of London whilst we tour the UK, which means quick trips to London or self-taped auditions. It seems so strange to be prepping material for other jobs when we've barely settled into this one yet, but it is the nature of the beast.

Given the extra rehearsals there was also no day off for the company this week, nor understudy rehearsals either, although there was at least a football match or two to watch apparently. I jest. I was one of the hardcore group of footy fans who zoomed off post-show on Saturday to do some cheering/shouting/swearing at the telly for England's first World Cup match. (I didn't really swear, Mum, promise!)

Hopefully we can reward ourselves for last week's hard work with some extra treats in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities in the world. Although the schedule is as busy as usual - local boys to rehearse, tech sessions, (hopefully) some extra time on the trapeze in a bid to avoid RSI from the routine, which is completely centred on my right hand side - we're trying to fit a lot of other stuff in too. There will certainly be some morning training for the girls' 10k charity run and I'm hoping to take a yomp up Arthur's Seat and around the castle too. Kara, who plays Dolly, is even arranging a midnight ghost walk for us! Despite being a regular visitor to both Edinburgh and the Festival, it's something I've never actually done and as this tour already seems to be flying by, I think I need to begin planning out my tourist ventures if I'm to make the most of it. Well if you can't sleep anyway, why not scare yourself silly with a ghost walk around a beautiful city?

You can read more about the exploits of Emma and the Annie Get Your Gun company as they tour the UK, at and visit for tickets.