'Annie Get Your Gun' sure to please at the Dixie

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

By Karen Hall


Musical theatre fans are in for a treat in Lewisburg this weekend and next, as "Annie Get Your Gun" is presented on the Dixie stage.

This is a classic musical, which had its Broadway premiere in 1946, and ran for over 1,000 performances there. It ran for even more performances on the London stage, and was made into a movie in 1950.

The music and lyrics are by Irving Berlin, and the book is by Dorothy Fields and her brother Herbert Fields.

"Annie Get Your Gun" is full of memorable songs, both comic -- like "Doin' What Comes Naturally" and "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" -- and romantic -- "I Got Lost in His Arms" and "They Say It's Wonderful."

It tells the story of the tempestuous relationship between Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, both sharpshooters with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Butler is already a star when the show comes to Annie's home town, but he loses a shooting match with her, an undiscovered local talent. They are attracted to one another, and Annie is easily persuaded to join the show. Romance is blooming between them until Annie presents a new trick that eclipses anything Frank can do. He breaks up with her and leaves in a rage to join a rival show: Pawnee Bill's.

The second act opens with Buffalo Bill and his troupe returning from a successful tour in Europe -- they were acclaimed everywhere, but made no money. Pawnee Bill's show is playing for high society in Madison Square Garden, but it turns out he is broke as well.

A plan is hatched to merge the two shows, which will bring Annie and Frank back together. This is an outcome they both desire, but they have such different ideas of what they want -- comically presented in "An Old-Fashioned Wedding" -- that they split again, only agreeing to one last shooting match to determine once and for all who is the best shot.

I'm not going to tell you what happens -- you'll have to go to the Dixie to see the ending of this delightful musical.

Director Nancy Nave directed "Annie" once before, in Houston County, in about 2009, with the same leading players, Barbie and Andy Pitts, but says she likes this version even better.

"They've worked really hard," Nave said of her cast, which has been rehearsing for weeks, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Some cast members have missed rehearsals because of work commitments, but others filled in for them and "it all came together," Nave said.

New to the Dixie stage is Mike Keny, former owner of H & S Pharmacy, current chairman of the school board, and, for several years, Master of Ceremonies of the Miss Marshall County Pageant. He plays Chief Sitting Bull, and does an excellent job.

"He's really gotten into it," said Nave.

Definitely not a stranger to the Dixie stage is Dayrin Jones, who is home from college for the summer. While he was in high school here, Jones was a standout in many productions, and he has lost none of his talent. He and Sophie Smith play the young lovers and have two charming songs together, "I'll Share it All With You" and "Who Do You Love, I Hope."

The musical director is Rachel Jeter and the choreographer is Julie Plott, who has done a great job with dance numbers throughout the show.

"Annie Get Your Gun" opens on the Dixie stage at 7 p.m. this Friday, July 18, and continues on July 19 and 20, and again the next weekend: July 25 to 27. Friday and Saturday performances are in the evening; the Sunday matinées start at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online through Ticket Leap at www.dixietheatre.org. The box office opens one hour before each performance.

Don't delay -- this show should sell out fast!