Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun coming to the JRT stage
Published 11:36 am Thursday, August 18, 2022
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By Pam Johnson
The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is thrilled to present Annie Get Your Gun, running August 26-September 11. This western musical features some of the best songs by Irving Berlin, like “Anything You Can Do” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
The popular love story, based on the life of one of the West’s most beloved heroines, brings fun, music, and energy to the JRT stage.
“Annie Get Your Gun tells the story of Annie Oakley,” said Joe Gumina (Frank Butler), “a plucky, rough-around-the-edges sharpshooter in the Old West, who challenges debonair show shooter Frank Butler to a shooting match and is struck by love in the process.”
However, as with any good story, there is so much more than a romance happening under the surface.
“The show is a story of love overcoming obstacles,” explained Angela Grigsby (Dolly Tate), “including prejudice, expectations, and our own selfish pride. This story is relatable because we all do things in the name of love that are misguided, short-sighted, or foolish. We also make mistakes in relationships when selfish pride or unwise self-sacrifice cause us to cross boundaries or allow others to violate them.”
Such is the case for the true-life characters of this story. The show is a fictionalization of the central characters: Annie and Frank.
“They really did join the Wild West show as expert sharpshooters,” said Bill Livesay (Wild Bill Cody), “and they had successful careers in marksmanship, got married in 1876, and lived a good long life until her death in 1926.”
In real life, as in this show, they had their conflicts right from the start.
“The main struggle in the show is between Annie and Frank,” said Brittany Whitson (Annie Oakley). “They fall in love with each other very quickly, but they are both the best in the world at what they do so there’s a constant ego battle between them, which sets up several funny and ultimately intense moments.”
Gumina added, “Frank Butler is the suave shooting champion whose confidence is shaken by Annie’s expert marksmanship and endearing charms. We’ve all been in situations where a comfortable status quo was threatened by the introduction of a new person. Watching Frank try to stand his ground in the face of ‘Hurricane Annie’ is one of the relatable joys of this show.”
Witnessing them work through their issues, not only with each other, but also with the friends and relatives and other members of the Wild West Show, is a fun and hilarious adventure.
“This show is full of songs,” said Whitson, “that most people will recognize and probably think ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was from this show!’ If you like musicals, old westerns, live entertainment, or any combination of the three, you will love this show.”
“I would say the appeal of the show,” said Josh Baldwin (Chief Sitting Bull), “is that it takes you back to a much simpler time, when something as basic as a shooting match at a Wild West show was pure entertainment to those who were lucky enough to see it. It is a break from the world of today with all of its technology and fast pace.”
“The audience wants to be transported” added Livesay, “to that place in time, to forget for a moment all the trials of modern-day life. This show does that. The costumes, the dancing, the music — it’s a classic that the audience will love.”
Annie Get Your Gun is written by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields. It was revised by Peter Stone. Music and Lyrics are by Irving Berlin. The show is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, choreographed by Rebekah Knisley, music directed by Liz Dollar, and stage managed/assistant directed by Kelly Cruise. Rounding out the cast are Olivia Asbury, Matthew Bruno, Olivia Bruno, Jackson Coches, Kelsey Cullop, Abigail Haagen, Matthew Haagen, Ella Harper, JJ Lane, Bennett Little, Lee Mitchell-Harris, Mike Musick, Caroline Peccia, Karsyn Potter, Justin Reilly, Kari Tuthill, Becca Van Wagenen, Breda Van Wagenen, Hannah Grace Wallen, and Lucas Wilcox.
The production is sponsored by Denny Dentistry, McLeod Organics, and Sonia King.
Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or go online to jonesboroughtheatre.com. The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough.