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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 46
Annie Get Your Gun a great production of a classic
Arts & Entertainment
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Annie Get Your Gun a great production of a classic

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Annie Get Your Gun
Village Theatre
Issaquah - Through December 31
Everett - January 6-29


There's no business like show business, and Village Theatre demonstrates that iconic statement with their rousing production of Annie Get Your Gun, headlined by historic rabble-rouser Annie Oakley, played to the hilt by Vicki Noon.

Mention has to be made of the wonderful musical accompaniment provided by R.J. Tancioco and his small 10-player orchestra. The music is full and surely delivered, with true professionalism, allowing the audience to relax into the iconic tunes that many will remember, like 'There's No Business Like Show Business,' 'Doin' What Comes Natur'lly,' 'You Can't Get a Man With a Gun,' and 'Anything You Can Do.' This musical has so many well-known songs by Irving Berlin that it clarifies instantly what a genius he was as a writer.

The program provides a lovely herstory of the real Annie Oakley, one of a handful of American women to rise to national prominence of her times, mostly by besting men at the manly sport of sharpshooting. She became a show-stopping draw to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and that is memorialized in this musical.

Frank Butler (Dane Stokinger) is a sharpshooting headliner who is threatened by the woman's prowess. Scruffy and unassuming, Annie is so unaccustomed to town life that she barely knows the value of money, but goes head to head with Frank in a shooting match and wins. Frank is used to attracting women's attention and sings a song about being a 'bad man' (one of the fun songs where Stokinger plays the sexy card and wiggles his ass alluringly), but somehow, Annie still wiggles her way into his heart.

Director Steve Tompkins encourages Noon and Stokinger to use a country-music style of song delivery that works excellently for this musical. Either of them could cut a country album and succeed. The winsome Noon shows all kinds of emotions and changes from country bumpkin to accomplished performer, while still retaining that true-blue character underlying Annie's good nature.

Older classics sometimes include some wince-inducing content. Witness the controversy over taking the 'n-word' out of Mark Twain's classic books. Here, some of the cringe-worthy treatment of Indians is removed by an update from Peter Stone. Oakley was such a champion of women's suffrage and a progressive thinker that she likely wouldn't have approved of denigrating Indians in the old musical, anyway. Of course, the inclusion of Sitting Bull (played with sardonic wit by Johnny Patchamatla) as her Papa Bull references Indians' hardships, but also his historic ability to adapt to changing circumstances and succeed.

An ensemble thick with talented members, including warm Hugh Hastings as the entrepreneurial Buffalo Bill; a fun, conniving Dolly Tate (Kathryn Van Meter); a harried Charlie Davenport (Casey Raiha); and three young'uns played by Analiese Emerson Guettinger, Maggie Bary, and Josh Feinsilber keeps the story humming.

The side story of young Winnie (Taylor Niemeyer) and Tommy Keller (Gabriel Corey) not being able to marry emphasizes in a small way the prejudices that Indians faced in being accepted as relationship material, as mean sister Dolly repeatedly tries to stop their love. Niemeyer enchants and shows continued progress toward becoming a lead actress.

Effective flying set drops by Bill Forrester keep the scene changes quick, glittery and colorful costumes by Karen Ann Ledger make for great visuals, and lighting by Aaron Copp and sound by Brent Warwick are solid contributions. Choreography by Tompkins and his dependable sidekick Kristin Culp is exuberant and acrobatic. Aside from the possible overuse of the 'Show Business' song in the underscoring, this is a great production of a classic musical.

For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-392-2202.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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