One of Kent’s longest established theatre groups is putting the finishing touches on its next major production at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre this autumn.
Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (DAODS) has been performing in the area for more than a century, and the past 12 months have been as busy as any. “Staging a musical is a huge undertaking, both technically and artistically, and this will be our fifth in the past year,” said society chairman Paul Farlie. “Aside from the people on stage, there are dozens who work tirelessly on lights, sound, costumes, set building and ticket sales to support our productions, plus all of the other jobs needed to keep the society running.”
DAODS’ current show is the Irving Berlin classic Annie Get Your Gun, which will see a cast of over 50 adults and children from Dartford and the surrounding area take to the Orchard stage in October. The show tells the story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her romance with rival gunslinger Frank Butler.
The original 1946 Broadway production was a huge hit and spawned a London transfer and a successful 1950 film adaptation starring Howard Keel. A significant revamp of both the script and score was undertaken for the 1999 Broadway revival to bring the show up to date with modern audiences, and it is this version which DAODS are preparing to wow their audiences with in October. All of the shows best known songs remain, including There’s no business like show business, Anything you can do and They say it’s wonderful.
Membership of the society takes in a variety of talented performers from the local area. This production will feature both old and new faces, with the eponymous heroine being played by Abby James, who joined the group less than a year ago. “I used to dance as a child and I’ve always loved performing, but I’m a newcomer to musical theatre,” she says. “It’s great to have the opportunity to challenge myself, and although it’s been nerve-wracking to take on such a big role, everyone in the society has been really supportive and given me so much help.”
The show marks the start of an exciting time for the society as it moves back to producing two shows a year at the Orchard Theatre. After Annie Get Your Gun, it will move straight in to rehearsals for Made in Dagenham, having been one of the first groups in the South East to be given the chance to perform this modern hit, at the Orchard in April 2017.
Annie Get Your Gun is being performed from 5-8 th October at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Tickets: 01322 220000 or www.orchardtheatre.co.uk