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Annie Get Your Gun


Annie Get Your Gun


 

Opening Night Reception Sponsor

Whole Foods Market Evanston

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields

December 21-31, 2013

Cahn Auditorium
600 Emerson, Evanston, IL

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Follow the rip-roarin' saga of Annie Oakley's rise from rural ragamuffin to world-famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show...and the man she can't get with a gun!

The score hits a bulls-eye every time:

• There's No Business Like Show Business
• Doin' What Comes Natur'lly
• I Got Lost In His Arms
• The Girl That I Marry
• Anything You Can Do
• An Old Fashioned Wedding

Ages 8 and older

Running time:

2 hour and 45 minutes,

including one intermission

 

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 8 pm
Sunday, December 22 at 2 pm
Thursday, December 26 at 2 pm
    (Family Matinee - Kids 1/2 price)
Friday, December 27 at 8 pm

    (Family Performance - Kids 1/2 price)
Saturday, December 28 at 2 pm
    (Family Matinee - Kids 1/2 price)
Saturday, December 28 at 8 pm
Sunday, December 29 at 2 pm
Tuesday, December 31 at 8 pm
     (New Year's Eve)

Main Floor: $48, $68, $77, $92
Balcony: $32, $48, $68, $77

New Year’s Eve all seats
Main Floor: $50, $70, $79, $94
Balcony: $34, $50, $70, $79

Age 21 and younger: 1/2 price
December 26 and 28 at 2 pm,
December 27 at 8 pm
(suitable for ages 8 and older)

 

More About the Show

 

Agonizing over Annie

by Michael Kotze

 

Irving Berlin had to make a big decision. To Annie Oakley, or not to Annie Oakley? That was the question. The offer was on the table, and if he chose, he could make his return to Broadway with Annie Get Your Gun. The idea had a lot going for it: a distinguished group of collaborators, an appealing story, and already attached to the project was Broadway’s biggest star, Ethel Merman. So why the hesitation?

First, a little background. It was the end of 1945, and Irving Berlin had been away from Broadway for quite a while. His last Broadway credits were the old-school musical comedy, Louisiana Purchase, in 1940, and a 1942 limited run of This Is the Army, a spectacular wartime morale-building revue, featuring a cast of servicemen, including Sgt. Irving Berlin himself singing “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.”

Not a “situation show” composer

Actually, Berlin’s career had not been centered on Broadway for some time. His most productive period on the Street dated back to the 1920s, when his series of popular revues packed the Music Box Theatre year after year. The revue was Berlin’s preferred genre.  For the most part, he steered clear of book shows (he called them “situation shows”), and only worked on a handful of them throughout his career. He was first and foremost a songwriter, and the revue was the form best equipped to deal with the teeming variety of his songwriting genius. 

The 1930s saw only two Berlin shows on Broadway. As the movies began to sing, more and more of Berlin’s time was taken up by Hollywood, where he penned tunes for the likes of Astaire and Rogers and Bing Crosby. One of these, written for a Crosby picture, became the best-selling song of all time: “White Christmas.”

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Berlin turned his hand to the war effort with such songs as “Any Bonds Today?,” the royalties of which he donated to the United States Treasury. The culmination of his patriotic work was This Is the Army, which after its Broadway run toured the country and eventually the world, with Sgt. Berlin and his troops performing on three continents, sometimes near battle lines.

Berlin was on tour with This Is the Army for more than three years, never taking a paycheck for his efforts. The show and its subsequent movie version raised more than 10 million dollars for the Army, and Berlin was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Truman. By this time, the man was a National Treasure.

A new Broadway “situation”

A triumphant return to Broadway would seem a fitting follow-up, but Berlin had reason to be hesitant. He would be returning to a different Broadway from the one he had left. What had happened in his absence? In a word: Oklahoma! After Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 breakthrough, the “situation show” was in the ascendant, with a new emphasis on the integration of all elements into a seamless theatrical whole. As Richard Rodgers put it, “the orchestrations sound the way the costumes look.” 

Berlin was out of sympathy with these new developments. He didn’t do “musical plays.” Heck, he barely did musical comedies! He was a songwriter, plain and simple. He must have been tempted to bow out gracefully. What if he couldn’t adapt to the new Broadway? Anything less than a smash would tarnish his image, and make him seem an old dog that couldn’t learn new tricks. 

The Annie offer had come from his old friend and rival Richard Rodgers. Since their Oklahoma! success, Rodgers and Hammerstein had gotten into the producing game, and had a long running hit, the comedy I Remember Mama, currently on Broadway. Lyricist Dorothy Fields had approached them with the idea of an Annie Oakley musical, an idea they thought a fine one. 

They engaged Jerome Kern to write the score. Like Berlin, Kern hadn’t had a show on Broadway in years, spending more time out in Hollywood. Rodgers and Hammerstein were delighted by the prospect of bringing this beloved veteran composer back to Broadway. But Kern’s sudden death on November 11, 1945, threw their plans into jeopardy. What to do? Rodgers had the perfect solution: bring another beloved veteran composer back to Broadway. 

Berlin demurred; this just wasn’t his kind of show. He didn’t know a thing about Annie Oakley, and besides, he couldn’t write the kind of “hillbilly music” (his words) he felt the story demanded. But Rodgers wouldn’t let the idea drop; “I begged him to go home with the book,” he recalled, “and fool around over the weekend and see how things worked, whether he got any ideas, whether it felt comfortable to him.” Berlin agreed.

The “situation” is show business

He went off to a hotel in Atlantic City and got to work. The “hillbilly music” problem seemed intractable, until finally the penny dropped: this wasn’t a musical about hillbillies, this was a musical about show people. That he could write.

Within a week, he had rough drafts of “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” “They Say It’s Wonderful” and the song that would become an anthem, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Usually Berlin did not work so fast, but now the songs were pouring out of him. Finally, Berlin’s mind was made up: he would make his long-awaited return to Broadway with Annie Get Your Gun.

The rest is history: Annie enjoyed a long New York run (with an even longer one in London’s West End), and an MGM Technicolor spectacular appeared a few years later. The score boasts more hit songs than virtually any other musical, and offers triumphant proof that Irving Berlin still had something to offer post-Oklahoma! Broadway. Even today, more than six decades after its premiere, Annie Get Your Gun proves that the greatest single asset a musical can have is a great songwriter.

 

Free Discussion

Annie Get Your Gun

TalkBack

Join us at either Annie Get Your Gun Family Matinee for a chat with cast members after the show at Cahn Auditorium.

Ages 21 and younger are half-price for these family shows:

Thursday, December 26, 2 pm

Saturday, December 28, 2 pm

Friday, December 27, 8 pm

(no TalkBack on Friday)

Order show tickets here.

Photos

 

 

 

Colette Todd stars as sharpshooter
Annie Oakley in the Light Opera Works
production of Irving Berlin's
Annie Get Your Gun,
December 21-31, 2013,
at Cahn Auditorium
in Evanston. Call (847) 920-5360 or
visit www.LightOperaWorks.com

Photo: Rich Foreman

 

 

James Rank as Frank Butler and
Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

 

Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

Colette Todd as Annie Oakley and
James Rank as Frank Butler.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

 

From left: Jim Heatherly (Charlie Davenport),
Colette Todd (Annie Oakley), John B. Doss
(Buffalo Bill Cody) and James Rank (Frank Butler).

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

 

James Rank (center) as Frank Butler, and ensemble.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

John Cardone as Wild Horse, and ensemble.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

Rick Rapp as Chief Sitting Bull and
Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Chris Ocken

 

 

Colette Todd as Annie Oakley.

Photo: Jennifer Schuman

 

James Rank as Frank Butler.

Photo: Jennifer Schuman

Press Release

Contact: Christopher A. Riley

Director of Audience and Press Services

(847) 920-5354 ext. 10 (press only)

criley@lightoperaworks.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


LIGHT OPERA WORKS presents
 
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
December 21-31, 2013

Who

Light Opera Works  

What

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields

Directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Conducted by Roger L. Bingaman 

When

Press Opening: Saturday, December 21 at 8 pm

Sunday, December 22 at 2 pm

Thursday, December 26 at 2 pm (family matinee)

Friday, December 27 at 8 pm (family performance)

Saturday, December 28, at 2 pm (family matinee)

Saturday, December 28, at 8 pm

Sunday, December 29, at 2 pm

Tuesday, December 31, at 8 pm (New Year’s Eve)

Where

Cahn Auditorium

600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL


Tickets

Main Floor $48, $68, $77, $92

Balcony $32, $48, $68, $77

New Year’s Eve - $34, $50, $70, $79, $94

Ages 21 and younger ½ price on December 26 and 28 at 2 pm (meet the cast after the show) and December 27 at 8 pm.

Suitable for ages 8 and older.

(847) 920-5360

www.LightOperaWorks.com

 

EVANSTON, IL: Light Opera Works will present the original 1946 Broadway version of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN with a full 28-piece pit orchestra, December 21 through 31, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson in Evanston.

 

The musical about Wild West star sharpshooter Annie Oakley includes the Irving Berlin song classics “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” “The Girl That I Marry,” “I Got Lost in His Arms” and “Anything You Can Do.”

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is directed and choreographed by Light Opera Works artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller, and conducted by Light Opera Works music director Roger L. Bingaman. 

The cast includes Colette Todd (Annie Oakley), James Rank (Frank Butler), Jim Heatherly (Charlie Davenport), Jenny Lamb (Dolly Tate), Rick Rapp (Chief Sitting Bull), John B. Boss (Buffalo Bill Cody) and Chuck Sisson (Pawnee Bill).

The design/production team includes Nick Mozak (scenic), Palmer Jankens (sound), Brenda Winstead (costume), Sienna Macedon-Kusek (hair and make-up), Andrew Meyers (lighting), Tom Campbell (stage manager) and Katie Beeks (production manager).

The opening night reception for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is sponsored by Whole Foods Market Evanston.

Ticket prices for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN range from $32 to $94. Ages 21 and younger are half price at Family Performances on December 26 and 28 at 2 pm and December 27 at 8 pm. To order tickets, or for more information, visit the Light Opera Works box office at 516 4th Street in Wilmette, call (847) 920-5360, or order 24 hours a day online at www.LightOperaWorks.com

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is Light Opera Works' final production of 2013. The 2014 season will begin with DAMN YANKEES (June 7-15), followed by FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (August 9-24), COLE PORTER’S GREATEST HITS (October 3-12) and THE MERRY WIDOW (December 19-31).

Discounted season ticket packages are available.

 

Director/Music Director Biographies

RUDY HOGENMILLER (Director), artistic director of Light Opera Works, was seen on stage as the Emcee in the company’s production of CABARET this past August. Hogenmiller has directed and choreographed many productions for the company including H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY!, MY FAIR LADY, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, KISS ME, KATE, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE MIKADO and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. He has been recognized with six Joseph Jefferson Awards and 17 nominations for best direction and choreography in Chicago. Hogenmiller has been a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers for more than 25 years.

ROGER L. BINGAMAN (Music Director) conducts the 28-piece orchestra. Bingaman made his first appearance on the Light Opera Works podium in 1997, conducting THE MERRY WIDOW. Since then he has conducted CAMELOT, BRIGADOON, THE STUDENT PRINCE, HELLO, DOLLY!, CAROUSEL, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD and I DO! I DO!, as well as BEAUTIFUL HELEN OF TROY, THE STUDENT PRINCE, SWEETHEARTS, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, SOUTH PACIFIC, 110 IN THE SHADE, KISS ME, KATE, BITTER SWEET, OKLAHOMA!, GIGI, IOLANTHE, THE MUSIC MAN, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, MY FAIR LADY, and THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. Bingaman has been director of the apprentice program and chorus master for the Sarasota Opera since 1998.

Cast Biographies

COLETTE TODD (Annie Oakley) appeared with Light Opera Works as Aldonza in MAN OF LA MANCHA, Nancy in OLIVER!, and in GERSHWIN'S GREATEST HITS and OPERETTA'S GREATEST HITS. Other Chicago credits include SEUSSICAL (Mrs. Mayor/Bird Girl) at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theater, SHREK (Fiona understudy) at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and ASPECTS OF LOVE (Giulietta Trapani - Joseph Jefferson Nomination: Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical) at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Regional credits include Illinois Opera Theater. Ms. Todd also maintains a private voice studio and teaches as an adjunct faculty member within the Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

JAMES RANK (Frank Butler) has appeared in many Light Opera Works productions, including CANDIDE (Voltaire/Pangloss), THE FANTASTICKS (El Gallo), 110 IN THE SHADE (File), and OPERETTA’S GREATEST HITS. He was recently seen as Commandant Rahm in SIGNS OF LIFE at Victory Gardens Theatre, Fredrik in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at Indiana Repertory Theatre, and the title role of THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF JONATHAN TOOMEY at Provision Theatre. He has appeared at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Kromow in THE MERRY WIDOW, Cord Elam in OKLAHOMA!), Writers’ Theatre (SHE LOVES ME, THE MINISTER’S WIFE), Peninsula Players (Jules in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE), Next Theater (THE AMERICAN DREAMS SONGBOOK, Jeff Award winner, Best Actor in a Revue), Drury Lane Water Tower (GRAND HOTEL, Jeff Award nominee, Best Actor in a Musical), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, PASSION), Candlelight Dinner Playhouse (Billy in CAROUSEL and the title role in PHANTOM), Drury Lane Oakbrook (CURTAINS, SOUTH PACIFIC, IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE…IT’S SUPERMAN) and the Goodman Theatre (TURN OF THE CENTURY). Rank has performed with Santa Fe Opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Central City Opera, Pamiro Opera, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Sinfonietta.

JIM HEATHERLY (Charlie Davenport) returns to Light Opera Works where he was recently seen as Herr Schultz in CABARET. Among 50+ productions over the past decade, his Chicago area credits include PAL JOEY (Porchlight Music Theatre), BUS STOP (The Guild Theater Company), COMPANY (BrightSide Theatre), ALMOST AN EVENING (Circle Theatre), SEASON’S GREETINGS (Northlight Theatre), STATE OF THE UNION (Strawdog Theatre Company), CABARET (The Hypocrites), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (Porchlight Music Theatre), THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK and DAMN YANKEES (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), and HEROES (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company).

JENNY LAMB (Dolly Tate) returns to Light Opera Works after appearing as Sally Bowles in CABARET. Credits include the reading of ANYONE CAN WHISTLE (Fay) with Porchlight Music Theatre, SPEAKING IN TONGUES (Jane/Valerie) with Interrobang Theatre Project and the world premiere of TRAINSPOTTING USA (Alison et al.) with Book and Lyric Theatricals. Past projects include THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING (Ensemble) with Dog and Pony Theatre Company, HÄNSEL UND GRETEL (Stepmother/Witch) with The Building Stage, PIPPIN (Fastrada) with BoHo Theatre, ALL IN LOVE IS FAIR (Jenean) and THE OTHER CINDERELLA (Dorothy) with the Black Ensemble Theatre, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Kate), EVITA (Peron’s Mistress), and JACQUES BREL'S LONESOME LOSERS OF THE NIGHT (Whore) all with Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Ms. Lamb holds a BFA in Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory, is co-founder and co-artistic director of Li’l Buds Theatre Company and a teaching artist at The Second City.

RICK RAPP (Chief Sitting Bull) returns to Light Opera Works after last year's debut in OLIVER! Rick has appeared in or directed dozens of shows, and has been a mainstay of the south suburban theater scene for the past three decades. A retired English and drama teacher, he is involved with Habitat for Humanity and has done one local build and two international builds in the last year. In February, he returns to Nicaragua to continue his work with Habitat.

JOHN B. BOSS (Buffalo Bill Cody) returns to Light Opera Works where he appeared in THE MERRY WIDOW, CARNIVAL!, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, SHE LOVES ME, and THE FANTASTICKS. He was recently seen in PERSUASION with Chamber Opera Chicago in the U.K., New York City and at Royal George Theater in Chicago. He performed with Variety Club Children's Theater in St. Louis as Warbucks in ANNIE, as Sir Danvers in JEKYLL AND HYDE, at Janesville Performing Arts Center, and at Steel Beam Theater as Marley in SCROOGE THE MUSICAL. At Munster’s Theater at the Center he was Max in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Bingham in THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY. Boss has toured the US and Canada with American Family Theater in ALADDIN and BABES IN TOYLAND, and made numerous appearances in TV shows, commercials, and corporate and live industrials.

CHUCK SISSON (Pawnee Bill) appeared with Light Opera Works as Rudy in THE STUDENT PRINCE and Andrew McGregor in BRIGADOON. A veteran of Chicago area theater, he is the 2012 recipient of the Jeff Award for non-equity Best Cctor in a Principal Role – Musical for his performance in THE BAKER’S WIFE with Circle Theatre. Other credits include A CHRISTMAS CAROL, THE BUTLER DIDN’T and OUT OF ORDER at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, and 1776, INTO THE WOODS, and EVITA with Music on Stage. He sings lead in the barbershop quartet “Chiefs of Staff” (1988 International Champions).

# # #

Light Opera Works is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company's mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences have come to know that at Light Opera Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.

# # #

Light Opera Works’ mission is to produce musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs, and to train artists in musical theater.

Reviews

Chicago Theater Beat

December 22, 2013

By Lawrence Bommer

So joyous it could cure the flu!

A first impression that crystallizes into a solid recommendation, Rudy Hogenmiller’s holiday staging of Irving Berlin’s treasure musical is a doozie. Cahn Auditorium might as well be a poster-strewn, festively lit carnival tent. So suggests the huge billboard blow-up for “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and his Congress of Rough Riders” that greets us from the start. This devotedly faithful revival of Irving Berlin’s greatest hit -- a 1946 musical as American as what’s best in us -- transforms the rambunctious courtship between tempestuous sharpshooters Frank Butler and Annie Oakley into a show within a circus. This hillbilly heroine from Dark County, Ohio, and this womanizing sure-shot headliner seem an odd match -- but they make beautiful duets together, not to mention box office bonanzas. That harmony, of course, can’t happen until friction between the temperamental artistes (“Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better”) forces Frank to abandon one Bill for another, temporarily seeking marquee glory with Pawnee Bill’s competing Wild West show and returning to his flamboyant assistant Dolly Tate (effervescent Jenny Lamb).

The sheer conviction of everything on stage overcomes the occasional lapses of political correctness (like Rick Rapp’s deadpan Chief Sitting Bull, a cigar-store Indian come to life, and Annie’s elaborate induction into the Sioux tribe) and one huge anachronism (what is a motorcycle, upon which Annie does some trick shooting, doing in the early 1890s?). Of course, there are also some wryly proto-feminist jokes: Despite being illiterate and uneducated, Colette Todd’s rambunctious Annie (reminiscent of Patrice Munsel in her prime) quickly learns how to exploit the double standard: She knows she “can’t get a man with a gun” but that’s her claim to fame. Will she tame her talent in order to win Frank’s love, knowing how fragile the male ego really is? It’s a “scrappily ever after” fairy tale. 

Anyway, with “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as your irresistible credo/anthem, you’re in footlight heaven: The song defines Broadway into notes. Equally entrancing are the gorgeous melodies and witty lyrics that embellish “An Old-Fashioned Wedding,” “The Girl That I Marry,” “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” (too slow in tempo here), and “I Got Lost in His Arms.” Rank and Todd croon these classics as freshly as if they just got them in rehearsal. Happily, there’s nothing flashy about Todd’s dogged ardor for James Rank’s rich baritone of a Frank (insufferable in the sharpshooter’s non-negotiable merit.) Our very game Annie’s infatuation with sudden fame and the man who makes it matter is as solid as the splendid duet “They Say That Falling in Love Is Wonderful.”

Cleverly mounted, fast-paced, and plucky as its success story, Light Opera Works’ “Annie Get Your Gun” is a happy contest between spectacle and sentiment. Set designer Nick Mozak’s drop curtains instantly and convincingly change the locales from the Wilson House hotel in Cincinnati to a Pullman parlor on the Overland Steam Train to the Minneapolis’ fair grounds to a cattle boat to the Hotel Brevoort’s ballroom to a ferry and finally to Governor’s Island, where Annie learns to lose a battle in order to win a war. (She gives a new meaning to “gun control.”) Whirlwind is too weak a word.

Brenda Winstead’s costumes nail the period and the people. Andrew H. Meyers’ lighting plays its own tricks of the trade. Roger Bingaman’s 29-piece orchestra can do no wrong as they give Berlin’s glorious score all we could ask for. Finally, Hogenmiller’s downhome (if sometimes casual) choreography delivers wildly athletic (as in gymnastic) hoedowns, culminating in an “I Got the Sun in the Morning” so joyous it could cure the flu.

Though Annie and Frank are self-promoting, leather-lunged, sawdust legends, beneath the bravura this American Beatrice and Benedick just need an excuse to drop their rifles and exchange rings. As benevolent, goateed Buffalo Bill, John B. Boss helps them to do what comes naturally--but the real matchmaker remains Irving Berlin’s perfect songs.

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Chicago Critic

December 23, 2013

By Tom Williams

Highly Recommended

Toe-tapping Berlin score sounds terrific with fill orchestra

It is so refreshing to experience classical Broadway musicals mounted like the originals. With all the original Robert Russell Bennett’s orchestrations played by a 29 person orchestra, Annie Get Your Gun, now a holiday treat at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston produced by Light Opera Works, is a marvelous musical containing one of Broadways’ most memorable scores.  When Jerome Kern dropped out due to illness in 1946, producers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II asked Irving Berlin to compose the tunes for Annie Get Your Gun. He was reluctant since the book by the Fields’ was a “situation musical”–meaning that the songs would come out of and further the storyline. That was a new method made famous by the 1943 hit Oklahoma! Berlin was coaxed to try the writing and the result was one of the most acclaimed scores every penned for the stage!

Annie Get Your Gun was intended to be a star vehicle for Ethel Merman (1908-84) and that original production with her played for 1,147 performances. It has been remounted many times including the Ravina production with Patti LuPone in 2010. The musical was a fictionalized version of female sharpshooter Annie Oakley who stared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in the late 19th Century.

In the Light Opera Works production, Colette Todd plays and sings Annie Oakley with a nice combination of down-home charm and feminist determination. Todd’s powerful vocals and her acting chops make Annie Oakley a most empathetic character. We love her and cheer for her as she tangles with boisterous Frank Butler (James Rank in rich voice), the reigning Wild West sharpshooter. This is a comic, show business fable with a light-weight book that is propelled by the fabulous staging and choreography by Rudy Hogenmiller as well as the deft singing of the terrific Berlin songbook.

Such tunes as “Doin’ what Comes Natur’lly,” and “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun” are memorable. The Broadway anthem “There’s No Business Like Show Business” emerged as one of the most famous show tunes ever! Numbers like “They Say it’s Wonderful’ and “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” have become standards that have been recorded by many singers. The famous duets: “An Old Fashioned Wedding’ and “Anything You Can Do,” nicely landed by James Rank and Colette Todd, add fine moments to this pleasingly light comic musical.

In addition to all the humor and terrific songs, Annie Get Your Gun contains some wildly imaginative American Indian-inspired music and dances smartly created by choreographer Rudy Hogenmiller. The “Tribal Dance” was breathtaking. The sophisticated staging and dance in the “I Got the Sun in the Morning’ number was smoothly performed a 40′s style dance to the toe-tapping Berlin song (my personal favorite tune form the show).

The Light Opera Works production has the lush, melodic Berlin score; nicely sung numbers; and fine comic moments with impressive dances that all equal a fine family-friendly Broadway musical. This production is truly as “must see” event. It is a rare treat to experience a full orchestra playing the complete score of a classical Broadway musical. This show proves that ‘there is no business like show business!

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Splash Magazine

December 22, 2013

By Amy Munice

Charismatic Annie Packs More Than a Gun

It’s 1946 and Rosie the Riveters are being told to clear out of the factories to make way for the war heroes returning home.  Never mind that many were pretty darned good at work; their place was in the kitchen supporting their man.

That’s the cultural moment in post-War USA when “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Ethel Merman with book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields made its big hit. It’s the story of a backwoods country girl who goes boy crazy for the lead shooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The happy ending is when she wins her man by pretending to be less of a good shot than she really is.

If your feminist bones are rattling at that synopsis this is not the show for you. Don’t even begin to think through an anti-racist grid, because Native Americans have far more to protest about than a poor choice of team name.

Foggedaboutit—I say. You only have to hear the first chords of the overture to be reminded of how Irving Berlin’s tunes from this show are about as classic at they get. Remember that this show brought us “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”, “The Girl That I Marry”, “They Say It’s Wonderful”, “Anything You Can Do”, “I Got the Sun in the Morning”, and more. If it weren’t so darn politically incorrect certainly the lovely tune of “I’m an Indian Too” would be in that roster also of musical theater DNA backbone.

Colette Todd’s charismatic smile, perfect pitch ham-it-up and golden chords make her a most memorable Annie. Her smile draws us in to the show like a high-powered magnet. Todd brings us big talent that lets us hear the beauty of the music with new ears.

Her love interest Frank Butler played by James Rank has an opera-trained voice that goes a long way to helping make this a toe tapper too.  Orchestra, ensemble, talented child actors—everyone does their part. 

If you love musical theater and want to know the A-Z of important milestones on Broadway don’t miss this show. It’s a short run over the holiday time and though not holiday-themed, it has that feel-good texture of the season.

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Examiner.com

December 23, 2013

By Mira Temkin

No Business Like Show Business at Light Opera Works

Yessiree, folks. Step right up and see America's greatest sharpshooter in the original 1946 Broadway version of "Annie Get Your Gun," now at Light Opera Works. The timeless music of Irving Berlin comes to life in this stellar production. With a full 29-piece orchestra conducted by Roger Bingaman, you'll be singing as you leave the theatre, humming such classics as "There's No Business Like Show Business," Anything You Can Do," and "Doin' What Comes Natur’lly."

“Annie Get Your Gun” tells the story of about Wild West star gunslinger Annie Oakley who finally learns "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun." Colette Todd, who also appeared in the company's production of "Man of La Mancha" as Aldonza and Nancy in "Oliver," is fabulous as Annie. Her over-the-top, powerful voice just takes the house down. James Rank as handsome Frank Butler has a gorgeous voice and charm to match. Jim Heatherly as Charlie Davenport is funny and boy, he can sing. But it's numbers like Tribal Dance and Show Business that really take your breath away, thanks to the prowess of ensemble member John Cardone.

Stage Director/Choreographer and Artistic Director Rudy Hogenmiller, who last appeared as the Emcee in the company's production of “Cabaret,” brings the show to life for classic musical lovers as well as a new generation of theatre-goers. Suitable for kids 8 and older.