Arts/Leisure: Musical Comedy Favorite Comes to ACT
The 1946 blockbuster musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” will open at Asheville Community Theatre this week.
The cast of 40 is directed by theater veteran Jerry Crouch.
“It’s just the best of American musical comedy,” Crouch said. “The score includes some of Broadway’s greatest show-stopping songs such as ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ ‘Doin’ What Comes Naturally,’ ‘They Say That Falling In Love Is Wonderful,’ and ‘Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).’”
The opening night performance on Sept. 20 will begin with a pre-show champagne reception, followed by a “Sweet Saturday” that features pre-show chocolates.
“After the first Sunday matinee, we have a post show Q&A where the audience is given the option to remain in the auditorium after the show and ask the cast and the crew whatever questions they have about the show. We’ve been staging these festivities around our show openings for several years, and they’ve become very popular,” Crouch said.
Crouch, who began his career with ACT in 1987 as the master of ceremonies in “Cabaret,” said “Annie Get Your Gun” was the first live musical he ever saw. It was an outdoor college production performed in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
“I immediately fell in love with it. I can’t explain it, but Annie Oakley has always fascinated me,” he said.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein produced the1946 musical as a vehicle for Ethel Merman. The music was to be written by Jerome Kern.
Kern came to New York from Hollywood and dropped dead on the street from a cerebral hemorrhage, so Rodgers and Hammerstein turned to Irving Berlin to write it. The show opened on Broadway with Merman and Ray Middleton, and was made into a motion picture by MGM in 1950 with Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. The 1999 revival version ACT is recreating starred Broadway diva Bernadette Peters with a revised book by Peter Stone. In this revival, scene changes will be announced from the stage and conducted in full view of the audience by the players.
Jacqueline Canney-Collison, who performs the title role of Annie Oakley at ACT, said she really relates to Oakley who presents herself as being tough, but is also very vulnerable.
“I like playing a woman from the 1800s knowing what a challenge she would have faced in the day when a typical women’s role involved little more than cooking and cleaning,” Collison said.
Brandon Kersey, who plays the male lead, said he’s bonded with the rest of the cast.
“There’s no way I could have done this show without all my amazingly talented new friends. I think the most fun part about being Frank Butler is getting to be larger-than-life, because Frank is definitely full of himself. He’s a cocky ladies man, which I am certainly not,” he said.
Crouch is singing the praises of members of his production team, including choreographer Kathy Meyers Leiner, set designer Jill Summers, and musical director Lenora Thom with their wonderful contributions. He said the song Moonshine Lullaby was originally performed by Oakley with three men harmonizing in the background. “Lenora has doubled the choral backup for maximum vocal impact,” he said.
Annie Get Your Gun plays weekends through Sunday, Oct.13. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ACT’s website at www.AshevilleTheatre.org or call 828 254-1320.