San Diego, CA---By the time Annie Oakley realized that “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun” in song master Irving Berlin’s 1946 Broadway hit “Annie Get Your Gun”, (The original book was by Herbert and Dorothy Fields and later revised by Peter Stone in 1999.) now in a stunning production at San Diego Musical Theatre in North Park through May 25th, audiences are taken on a road trip with the likes of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, sharpshooter Frank Butler, Chief Sittng Bull, Pawnee Bill, and a host of other characters.
All this happens in a fast moving two plus hour musical celebration that brings smiles of joy to those whose nostalgia for ‘the good old days’ of musicals (politically incorrect, bruises and all) is represented in this memorable jewel. If you’ve never seen the stage adaptation, see it now!
In this fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley whose fame and fortune, at one time was well beyond anyone’s imagination including her rival/lover Frank Butler, Oakley transforms herself from a Country Bumpkin into one of the worlds most talked about revered and celebrated sharp shooters of her time.
In bringing this stylish production together, director/choreographer John Todd has also assembled a first rate; extremely talented group (from top to bottom) of actors to the fore and that includes the backwoods sharp shooter and star of this production, Beth Malone (“The Marvelous Wonderettes”, SDMT) as Annie Oakley. Co-starring, or if you will, her counterpart, Frank Butler is strongly represented by Steve Blanchard our ‘Grinch’ at the Old Globe for the past several seasons.
Don Le Master, musical director for San Diego Musical Theatre since its inception, heads a 22 member orchestra that doesn’t shrink from giving us full toned sound with the more than twenty or more, oh so familiar Berlin favorites starting with “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. That brought shivers of excitement for me and right then and there I knew I was in for a treat. I had forgotten how much of the score I remembered word for word.
Todd hasn’t shirked either on a full throttle ensemble of dancers who can kick, waltz and sashay with the best of them. Doing double duty they move sets, sing and for the most part put their best foot (pardon the pun) forward keeping this production looking like a well-oiled machine.
It might be a fact that no one can belt out “There’s No Business Like Show Business” like Ethel Merman, whom Fields had in mind for the role of Annie. Make no mistake though, Beth Malone doesn’t come second to anyone in her portrayal of Annie and her voice, while not as vigorous as other leading ladies may be, is just fine, thank you. Consider though, “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”, “I Got Lost In His Arms”, “Sun In The Morning” (with ensemble)“You Can’t Get a Man With A Gun” and doing them with ease just for kicks. (ouch).
With Frank (Blanchard), she goes head to head “The Girl That I Marry”, “They Say It’s Wonderful”, and “An Old Fashioned Wedding”. Blanchard isn’t shy about his chops either especially with “My Defenses Are Down” that he sings and dances with the cowboys. There are four youngsters (Annie’s siblings) who about steal the show in “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”.
Young Taylor Coleman who plays Annie’s youngest sister Minnie Oakley hails from Carmel Valley and is a second grader at Sage Canyon Elementary School. (How cool is that for her?) Oh, excuse me; she’s already made her debut at The Old Globe as Cindy Lou Who in “Grinch”. She also dances with the Royal Dance Academy.
John Polhamus’ Buffalo Bill, Sean Tamburrino’s Sitting Bull, Paul Morgavo as Charlie Davenport, the company manager of The Wild West Show, Jim Marshall as Pawnee Bill, Steven Rada as the Native American in love with the white girl Winnie Tate (Jeni Baker) and Debbie David as Butler’s warm up gal Dolly Tate all add to the perfection of this show.
Between the rented sets, which worked perfectly on the North Park Stage, Matthew Novotny’s ‘showbiz’ lighting, new and more comfortable seating arrangement and Janet Pitcher’s responsibility for the rented costumes, all is good in North Park.
As the run ends soon, don’t be one of those who moan after the fact for not getting in on the action. This is truly a must see show.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through May 25th
Organization: San Diego Musical Theatre
Production Type: Musical
Where: North Park Theatre
Ticket Prices: $26.00-$56.00