Troupe's finally getting Annie, her gun to stage

Musical: This year's Howard County Summer Theatre's production is one its director has wanted to do for years.

Howard Live

July 08, 2004|By Melanie R. Holmes | Melanie R. Holmes,SUN STAFF

From the production staff and orchestra to the actors and stage crew, the estimated 200 people who participate annually in Howard County Summer Theatre are ecstatic for two reasons: They are celebrating the company's 30th year and were finally able to nab the play they've been waiting to do for quite some time.

The troupe will put on the 1999 Broadway revival version of Annie Get Your Gun, the story of a female sharpshooter who falls for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show's leading man. The musical is best known for songs like Anything You Can Do and Show Business.

"Our director, Tom Sankey, has really been waiting for this show for a long time," said Mo Dutterer who plays Frank Butler. "He's been wanting to do the show for three to four years, but it just became available in January."

Those most heavily involved with the play say the nine weeks of rehearsal helped produce an entertaining show sure to keep the entire family entertained.

"There are some neat cowboy and Indian numbers so they'll [the audience] get an idea for the old Wild West shows," said Amanda Tschirgi, Howard County Summer Theatre's choreographer for the past 21 years. "It's a real technical show for people who like special effects."

Sankey, who has been directing the group for 22 years, describes the cast of about 85 as "a group of wonderful performers" and took special notice of the hard work and talent of co-stars Dutterer and Pam Land, who plays Annie Oakley.

"They both are professional, they both are talented and are both fun to work with," said Sankey, a math teacher at Mount Hebron High School. "What I'm excited about the most is that the community will get to see a new version of an old show."

Land, a drama teacher at River Hill High School, has appeared in other HCST plays, such as Singing in the Rain and Me and My Girl. Dutterer appeared in The Music Man, The Sound of Music and other shows as well, but has played a more vital HCST role than his onstage portrayals.

"I was the original director," Dutterer said. "When three parents from Mount Hebron High School came to me [in 1975], they really wanted something for their kids to do in the summertime."

At the time, Dutterer taught music and drama at Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City. There were few opportunities for teens in Howard to get involved with theater, so he agreed to direct Guys and Dolls.

"We weren't sure if it was going to stick, but this has been the 30th performance that we've done," said Dutterer, who is now a private voice coach.

Land said the play will be a hit because it reaches all generations. "What's really fun is that it's for all ages," she said. "It's good especially for the kids."

"It has been our goal to provide family entertainment at reasonable prices," Sankey said. "We are donating several of our proceeds to two charities, the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center Inc. and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I hope many people will come, because it's a great story."

Annie Get Your Gun will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and July 14-17, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at Music & Arts Center (Chatham Station Shopping Center) or call 410-313-8978.

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