Show aims for classic Wild West fun

Musical: Legendary characters and score take stage in "Annie, Get Your Gun."


November 08, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Tomorrow, an upbeat article of Americana opens at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts when Moonlight Troupers' 25-member cast brings history to life in Irving Berlin's Annie, Get Your Gun.

The musical classic tells the story of Annie Oakley, the sharp-shooting country girl who joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and became world-famous for her marksmanship, defeating vaudevillian-sharpshooter Frank Butler in competition.

If all three of the characters are legends, so is composer Berlin, whom fellow composer Jerome Kern once described as having "no place in American music -- Berlin is American music."

The composer of "White Christmas" and "God Bless America" wrote some of his best songs for what became his greatest hit show. Opening on Broadway in 1946, Annie, Get Your Gun introduced such now-standard songs as "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Doin' What Comes Naturally," "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Anything You Can Do."

"We chose this show because it's so much fun and we have a young cast with both the energy and talent to do it justice," says the director of the Moonlight Troupers production, Barbara Marder, associate professor of theater arts. "There is fun in the show's sense of Americana, as it depicts Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill and Frank Butler, who were every bit as much American legends as Daniel Boone and Johnny Appleseed."

As for the show's romantic angle, Marder said that "the love-hate relationship between Annie and Frank is a genuine love story, with their happy marriage lasting almost 50 years."

Marder said she has tremendous appreciation for the composer's work.

"Irving Berlin's music is honest music that is simple, but never trite," she said. "Songs like `[There's] No Business Like Show Business' continue to offer us something today and, where necessary, we've tried to modernize aspects, like emphasizing our respect of Native American traditions."

The production stars Katie Bowerman of Pasadena as Annie Oakley. Bowerman was seen in Troupers productions of Gypsy and On the Razzle.

Frank Butler is played by David Jennings of Bowie, who has performed at Toby's and Burn Brae dinner theaters, and for Disney Cruise Lines. He recently was seen as the Scarecrow in Chesapeake Music Hall's Wizard of Oz.

Art Hall of Pasadena plays Buffalo Bill. George Johnson portrays Charlie Davenport, the Wild West Show manager. Johnson, also a Pasadena resident, was featured in Troupers productions of Charlotte's Web and On the Razzle.

Another returning Troupers player is Jessica Hyman of Severna Park as Dolly Tate. Tim Grieb of Pasadena plays Sitting Bull, Darrell Conley portrays Pawnee Bill, and Eric Teach plays Mac.

Others in the cast include David Collier, Jenny Sweigart, Carl Silver, Sage Snider, Annie Bik, David Johney, Eric Langenstein, Nikki Sesney, Courtney Stinchcomb, Mike Chambers, Jenny Goldsmith, Angela Harper, Shawn Swenson, Chase Taylor and Mason Unger.

Raymond Ascione directs the music, Marsha Goldsmith is vocal coach. Verena Keller-Demack is choreographer, and Joy Ajello is technical assistant, with lighting design and technical direction by Robert Kauffman, professor and department chair for performing arts. AACC student Chrisey Taylor is the stage manager.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $9 for senior citizens and groups, and $8 for AACC students and employees. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, this week and Nov. 16-18.

Information or tickets: box office, 410-777-2457.

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