It's a Sunday afternoon and I am full of Sunday roast and curled on the sofa in a friend's London flat as I write what will be my final blog (for now) for the Huffington Post. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that the show is over - come 7:30pm on Tuesday I'll probably be feeling thoroughly lost and more than a little bereft! This week Annie Get Your Gun played its final week of the (slightly curtailed) UK Tour at the fabulous not-quite-West-End-but-still-London New Wimbledon Theatre. It has been a week of wonderful highs and heartbreaking sadness as we bid farewell to the Wild West and what has been an incredible five months as a company.
As ever this week has been somewhat hectic. Although there are no further tour venues to visit there's still been press and events to do, including a fabulous sing-a-long event hosted in the theatre on the final day, which I took great pleasure in popping along to. Hearing fifteen total strangers singing the Berlin songs that have become so very familiar to me, was both thrilling and a little sobering. It's always interesting to hear how someone else interprets a piece of material, especially one as famous as 'There's No Business Like Showbusiness' but maybe it ultimately proved a little cathartic too. That commencement of handing Annie back over to other people now she is no longer mine, I suppose
It has still been a week of fun and frolics though with many a friend and family member in, and several industry folk too. The tour hoodies arrived and were worn with pride backstage and on Friday evening our end of tour party took place at the lovely Hot Pink Healthy Grill, across the road from the theatre. Whilst scoffing grilled halloumi and chicken skewers (and supping on many a delicious milkshake), we seated ourselves for the first (and possibly only) Annual Annie Awards! Annies - trophies made of tiny cowboys and logo decorated plinths - were handed out based on our voting forms from the past few weeks. Sexiest Cowboy or Cowgirl was won by the gorgeous Jonny Godbold, Tour Quote went to Jason Donovan and his perpetual 'Ma, Ma, MAAA' and I personally picked up the Large Lungs award for my long note in 'Anything You Can Do' which topped out at 43 seconds it seems!
Awards over, we watched a fabulous montage of videos and photos put together by Swing extraordinaire Ste Clough, which I'm sure will be sent out to everyone over the next few weeks. It was a bittersweet end to what has been an amazing job, to see so many wonderful memories all together side by side. I have made some astonishing friends on this production and forged what will hopefully be life long friendships. Although working on this production has been incredible, it is the people that have made it truly special and this team have certainly been one of the best I've ever had the opportunity of working with.
Saturday's final shows seemed to speed by unbearably fast and all too soon we were taking those final bows. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a sobbing, snivelling heap at that moment, and I certainly wasn't the only one. As we linked arms for that final kickline you could hear the tears in our voices singing 'Showbusiness' one last time. 'There's no people like show people' we chorused, 'they smile when they are low...' Collectively we pulled our arms tightly together, collectively we dug deep and collectively we felt that smile firmly fix itself to our faces and grinned for all we were worth, tears rolling freely down our cheeks. In the wings afterwards we sobbed openly, hugging each other close, thankful for the experience.
So with a wry smile I must go 'home and hang up my gun as I ain't the champeen no more', to paraphrase Ms Oakley. I have had the most superlative and remarkable time playing this sharpshooting woman. She's taught me so much, not least about myself, reasserted my confidence and brought out a side of my voice I never knew I had. I've loved each and every minute of this show - from conquering my fear of heights, to learning how to clay pigeon shoot and even fighting through a show with food poisoning. I'm so very grateful that there is absolutely no business like show business.... so until next time, let's go on with the show.