Playing now through August 28 at Hale Centre Theatre
The Hale Theatre Center in Gilbert's Historic District is certainly having a fun summer with its current production of Irving Berlin's Annie Get your Gun. The Examiner called the show, “...a colorful, splashy, musically astounding extravaganza that is the perfect summer entertainment for the entire family.”
The Examiner asked director Tregoney Shepperd how she would approach such an iconic musical? She replied, “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.” Shepperd added, “...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.”
Shepperd's biggest coup for Annie Get Your Gun was casting Erica Smith and Matt Crosby in the lead roles of Annie and Frank. It is so refreshing to see these roles played by performers who are actually the correct corresponding ages.
The Examiner spoke with the lovely and youthful Erica Smith about playing Annie. Still very much a student of theater, this fall Smith will be a sophomore at the University of Arizona pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance. Imagine an Annie who, for a change, is not approaching 50! What a concept! The Examiner said of Smith's performance in Annie Get Your Gun, “...her winsome naiveté is refreshing and winning...It is a pleasure to see her wide-eyed innocence, always amazed and learning from her surroundings.”
Matt Crosby (Frank Butler) and Erica Smith (Annie Oakley)
Q: How exciting is it for you to create the title role in one of the most famous musicals ever written?
A: It's a little overwhelming. There are some big shoes to fill with all the great stars who have made the role of Annie their own. It is truly a special opportunity for me. The kind that only comes around every once in a while. I am really excited.
Q: How will you approach the role of Annie Oakley?
A: I did a lot of research, studied the background of Annie Oakley. She's a very strong willed, savvy person. I have seen productions where she has been portrayed as dumb rather than uneducated. There's is a subtle difference there between being dumb and uneducated. I found her to be an inherently smart woman. Annie see things simply and then she's always doin' what comes naturally. She is a very joyous person and that's why I am having so much fun playing her. It's like finding my inner child.
Smith's Annie Oakley
Q: How have you enjoyed your Hale experience?
A: I have so loved it. It's my first show with Hale Theatre. I have always known it's a great place to work from other people and from the shows I have seen there.
Q: What other roles have you tackled?
A: In 2008. I was Millie in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for Tregoney Shepperd at Gilbert Fine Arts. I have also done a few shows at MCC where I had a lead role in Back to the '80's and also played in Children of Eden and Sweeney Todd.
Q: Are there any roles you would like to play?
A: It's completely opposite from the role of Annie in Annie Get Your Gun but I would love to play Johanna in Sweeney Todd. I am a big Sondheim fan. My school is actually doing Into The Woods next year. I feel that I would have to be older to play the witch but there's always Cinderella.
Q: What else have you done with U of A?
A: This past year, the Freshman class did The Traveling Vaudeville Show. We will be doing Spelling Bee next year.
Coming up: The Examiner interviews Matt Crosby, Annie Get Your Gun's Frank Butler.
Graphic artwork and production photos by Wade Moran courtesy of Hale Theatre Center.
To read the full Examiner review for Annie Get Your Gun, please click HERE.
For more information about Annie Get Your Gun's performance schedules now through August 28 and/or ticket prices and availability, please contact Hale Centre Theatre directly either ON LINE or the box office at (480)-497-1181.
Hale Centre Theatre 50 West Page Ave, Gilbert 85233