Antique Poster of Annie Oakley
The Hale Centre Theatre opened it light hearted new production of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun Friday night, July 16. Despite some minor quibbling with the original text, The Examiner was quite pleased with the show, writing, “The Hale Centre Theatre and Tregoney Shepperd's Annie Get Your Gun is a colorful, splashy, musically astounding extravaganza that is the perfect summer entertainment for the entire family.”
To read the full Examiner review for Annie Get Your Gun, click HERE.
Tregoney Shepperd is returning to the Hale Theatre where she directed Beauty and the Beast and last season's trumphant Guys and Dolls. Shepperd has appeared on Broadway as well as the National Tours of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera. Her credits as a director, music director and choreographer include: Little Shop of Horrors, The Sound of Music, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Children of Eden, Seussical, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Shepperd has performed her one woman show Bigger is Better in New York, Chicago, LA and has appeared in cabaret rooms across the country.
Director Tregoney Shepperd
The Examiner spoke with Tregoney Shepperd recently about her theater background and personal experiences with staging the new production of Annie Get Your Gun at Hale Centre Theatre.
Q:You have directed some of the Hale Theatre's most popular shows. Your staging of Guys and Dolls this past season was simply wonderful. What can we expect to see with a new Annie Get your Gun?
A: I think it is going to be really enjoyable. It's an older show and I have tried to stay true to the original script, to keep it charming and lively and fun. I have a really great cast to work with and they are painting wonderful pictures of all the things that I am wanting to create.
Rehearsals: Erica Smith takes aim with Matt Crosby and Alyson Friesen looking on.
Q: How did you prep your Annie Get Your Gun cast?
A: For Annie Get Your Gun, we talked at length about striving to make make the show not appear hokey. That was my biggest concern. I wanted them to play it as it was written, just to play it as it is. I did not want to make more or less of it than what is written on the page.
Annie Get Your Gun is very old fashioned. The cast was having a hard time connecting to it at first. We really don't speak that way anymore and sometimes, with material like this, it is hard not to be cheesy or campy. I told them it's all about the characters' relationships that they had to make them all seem as real as possible. For me, the more engaged the audience is in the relationships between the characters on stage, the more they care, the stronger the show will be.
Q: It's all about having faith in the history and validity of the material, isn't it?
A: Yes, the original show was a hit for a reason. It is so important for me to instill a feeling of nostalgia for another time. If it worked as it was written it should work again. You really have to have respect and have faith in the material you are working with.
Q: You have performed in two of the theater's most successful musicals on Broadway, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. What was it like to work under the magic of Trevor Nunn and Harold Prince?
A: It was amazing! They were totally different experiences. When I did Les Miz, Trevor Nunn and John Caird came in right from the start and had massive rehearsals with us because the show had been playing for a while at that point. The both of them are so brilliant. You just sit there. You don't want anyone else to talk. They are both such master painters. They paint with words and create pictures. You can easily visualize everything that they want. They were an important influence on how I try to work with each new cast on each new show.
From time to time, Hal would show up to fine tune The Phantom of the Opera. What makes that show so special, for me and everyone involved, is the breathtaking spectacle that the creative team fashioned for its audiences.
Funny story! When I toured in the show, the theaters were so different in size and configuration that the chandelier's collapse took on a new meaning for us. I was one of the characters on stage when it would come crashing down. Depending on the size of the theater, sometimes you couldn't get off the stage fast enough to get out of its way. Other times the auditorium would be so huge, it would take forever for it to move downwards. It would be this slow, shaking, deliberate descent and you would have to stand there and look horrified and then move as if in slow motion. It was always such fun!
Skyler Bean on box surrounded by Annie's siblings and Dolly
Q: Do you have any favorites among your roles as an actor, choreographer or director?
A: My favorite role is Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. As a choreographer, I would have to say I really loved doing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I think Children of Eden is my favorite of all the productions that I have directed.
Q: Tell us about your one-woman show, Bigger is Better. Will Phoenix have the opportunity to see you perform it?
A: That was a great show. It was created when I was out touring in Phantom of the Opera. I first opened it in LA. Then I took it to Chicago and finally to Don't Tell Mama's in New York.
I have a new show coming out that I am working on right now that I am hoping to play here in Phoenix in the fall.
Annie Get Your Gun Now thru August 28 at Hale Centre Theatre
Q: What's next for you?
A: I plan on going to Jackson Hole to perform some cabarets there in August. After that I am excited to be doing Meredith Willson's The Music Man with Phoenix Theatre and the Phoenix Symphony in September. It's going to be a staged concert of the musical at Symphony Hall, similar to the City Center Encores! series in New York. I will be on stage, once again, playing the Mayor's wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn.
Still to come, The Examiner has more interviews with the stars and creative talent behind the Hale Centre Theatre's Annie Get Your Gun.
Rehearsal photos by Danielle Moss. All graphic artwork and photos, courtesy of Hale Centre Theatre.
For more information about Annie Get Your Gun's performance schedules now thru August 28 and/or ticket prices and availability, please contact Hale Centre Theatre directly eitherON LINE or the box office at (480)-497-1181.
Hale Centre Theatre 50 West Page Ave, Gilbert 85233