Annie Get Your Gun

America has had it's share of folk heroes such as Davey Crockett and John Henry, and even mythological heroes such as Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, but one of the biggest heroes, er, actually heroines, is Annie Oakley, and her legend is, unlike these other folks, mostly true.

Annie Oakley was, of course, one of the best sharpshooters who ever lived. Her prowess with a rifle supported Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and earned her audiences and demonstrations with Queen Victoria and other courts all over Europe.

Eventually, her story was immortalized on Broadway by composer and lyricist Irving Berlin with Ethel Merman in the title role. Now, Annie Get Your Gun in its latest revival is running at the Buell starring Marilu Henner and Tom Wopat. While both Henner and Wopat are best know for their television roles, as it turns out their voices and stage presences are dazzling. Henner dances, cajoles, and charms everyone as the brash uncivilized country tomboy that falls head over heals for Wopat's swashbuckling Frank Butler, the handsome marksman and star of Cody's menagerie of cowboys, Native Americans, and buffalo soldiers.

Together, they light up the hall trading memorable tunes such as "There's No Business Like Show Business," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun," "They Say It's Wonderful," "The Girl that I Marry" and "Anything You Can Do."

Most remarkably, though, the new production got the rights from Berlin's estate to remove the ethnic caricatures that threaten this old chestnut, and many Broadway shows like it from that era, with extinction. And for the most part they succeeded, with a few glaring reminders of the racism that still pervades our society.

Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, with book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, starring Marilu Henner and Tom Wopat runs through January 23rd. The box office number is 303-893-4100.


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