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The Lavender Theatre, Epsom launches with a big bang. We review 'Annie Get Your Gun’

Guest post by Deborah Tarrant


The 250-seat open air Lavender Theatre, set amidst rolling lavender fields in Epsom, opened in July 2023 for its inaugural summer season and will be home for an annual season of plays and musicals. The theatre is the sister site to the Mayfield Lavender Farm in Banstead which since opening in 2006 has grown into a major summer destination for tourists and locals in South London. This is actually a lovely spot that London Born and Bred have visited several times.

View of lavender fields through the trees
The lavender fields are at their best

I love a good musical and I was excited to see how Director/choreographer Simon Hardwick would bring Herbert and Dorothy Field’s original story to life in an open-air theatre in 2023.

Simon had promised that “the show will be a rip-roaring staging of the well-known Broadway musical in a very raw and kinetic production that evokes the energy of Buffalo Bill’s original touring celebrations of the Wild West”. Featuring a glittering score of Irving Berlin’s best-loved songs, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ proves There’s No Business Like Show Business in this all-singing, all-dancing, gun-toting glory!


Being close to London, and a short drive from my home in SW London, it was lovely to have an unusual outdoor venue to see a show. The pictures of the Lavender Fields looked beautiful, and I hoped the natural landscape would provide a super backdrop for the show. I had some trepidation though, as the weather forecast was predicting rain! How would it cope with the unpredictable British weather?

Woman sweeping the open air theatre stage to get rid of excess rain water
The cast did so well with this very wet stage

And rain it did! Despite the auditorium being covered I’m glad I came prepared with warm clothes and waterproofs. The cast were not so lucky. The first sight I had of the open stage, set up as a western scene, was of someone sweeping the rain off the boards. I wondered how they would cope. The director announced that they would have a few pauses in the show to sweep the stage and do safety checks which they hoped would not be too intrusive.

And then the show opened, during a slightly brighter dryer albeit short spell, with great energy and dramatic impact.

Woman in plaid shirt, khaki skirt and cowboy boots aiming a rifle to the right
Annie Get Your Gun at the Lavender Theatre: Surie (Annie Oakley) and young cast. Photo Harry Elletson

For those that don’t know the story, it’s like a show within a show. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to town, and it only takes one glance for sharp-shooting country girl Annie Oakley to fall head over heels for its star marksman, Frank Butler. Both have truly met their match, revealing their competitive natures as they vie for best shot – and each other’s hearts. The main cast members are SuRie as Annie Oakley, Charlie McCullagh (‘Bonnie & Clyde’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘42 Balloons’) as Frank Butler, Chlöe Hart (Catherine of Aragon in the national tour of ‘Six’, ‘Evita’, ‘Kinky Boots’) as Dolly Tate and Elliot Broadfoot, a 2023 graduate from Leeds Conservatoire making his professional debut as Buffalo Bill.

Man dancing whilst holding a knife in his left hand
Annie Get Your Gun at Lavender Theatre. Joseph Vella (Tommy Keeler) and cast Photo Harry Elletson

All credit to them as despite the unforgiving rain and wind they carried on regardless and gave a great performance and you really would not have known they were getting soaking wet. I was impressed with the acting, singing, and dancing and was as good as anything you would see in the West End. So, I wasn’t disappointed, even on a rainy day. It was a shame not to see the site on a better day and I am sure it would be a more beautiful and a

wonderful experience for all the senses in fairer climes. It may also be even better in the evening where the lighting would have more effect. They even had to check the covers of the auditorium in the interval but even this didn’t stop the show and I was pleased to see such good safety practice in place.


It would be amiss not to give a shout out to the small band that produced the music for all the songs and backing. They gave an excellent rendition of the all-time classic hits including 'There’s No Business Like Show Business', 'Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly' and 'Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better'. They were thankfully sheltered in a tent at the back right of the stage. The front was open and during the interval they had to find a cover as the rain proved too much to continue playing safely.


Near to the auditorium there were several tents with refreshments with one decorated as a western saloon bar as well as the café in the main building with the garden shop. The venue is easily accessible albeit with fairly limited parking.


Produced by Lavender Theatre Artistic Director Joe McNeice for Lavender Productions Ltd

The theatre is a brave and ambitious endeavour as it is privately funded and managed by Lavender Productions Ltd. with plans to produce its own shows through the summer season expand year on year with diverse and engaging programming. It is good to support such a special and different local entertainment space.


Annie Get Your Gun is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. www.concordtheatricals.co.uk


The rest of the company features Nina Bell (‘Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas’, ‘Matilda’, UK & Ireland Tour), Joe Boyle (‘Top Hat’, ‘Heathers’), Kyerron Dixon-Bassey (‘From Here To Eternity)’, Jay Faisca (‘Henry VI: Days of Rebellion’), Marisa Harris (‘Yeast Nation’, ‘Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera’), Holly Lawrence (‘Grease’, Royal Caribbean), AJ Lewis (‘Mandela’, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’), and Joseph Vella (‘Gypsy’, ‘From Here To Eternity’).


When is Annie Get Your Gun on at the Lavender Theatre?

Annie Get Your Gun runs until 5th August 2023


Evening performances: Monday – Saturday 19:30

Matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 14:30


Approximate running time for Annie Get Your Gun is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.


How much are Tickets for Annie Get your Gun at the Lavender Theatre?

Ticket prices range from £35 - £65, plus £2 transaction fee for online bookings.



No transaction fee is charged for in person bookings at Mayfield Lavender, 139 Reigate Road, Epsom KT17 3DW, or from Epsom Playhouse.


Tickets are available at £28 for full time students and under 14s for Monday-Friday performances. ID will be required upon arrival at the theatre to prove eligibility for the Under 14s/Students rate. Transaction fee applies to Under 14s/Students rate bookings made online.


Accessible tickets are available. Please contact boxoffice@lavendertheatre.com

to discuss making an access booking.


Where is the Lavender Theatre?

139 Reigate Road, Epsom KT17 3DW.


Getting to the Lavender Theatre

Trains run every 30 minutes from London Victoria to and from Epsom Downs station (Zone 6). TfL contactless and Oyster payments are accepted. The theatre is a 7-minute walk from the station.

The 166 bus from West Croydon stops on Reigate Road, approximately 200ft away from the theatre entrance gates.

The Lavender Theatre is equipped with off-road car parking spaces, though local visitors are encouraged to walk or cycle to the theatre.


About the Lavender Theatre

Based at Mayfield Lavender in Surrey, the theatre has been co-founded by director Joe McNeice and Mayfield owner Brendan Maye. The launch of the theatre will see the completion of a £2m+ investment into the Epsom site, which already boasts a coffee bar, shop, and a full-service glasshouse restaurant due to open alongside the theatre this summer. Audiences will be able dine in a glass house restaurant underneath Mediterranean citrus trees or grab a picnic to enjoy among the blossoming rows of lavender as the sun begins to set, before taking their seats in our covered auditorium to watch a show under the stars. It promises to be a truly special experience

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