Lake Dillon presents Berlin classic
DILLON – Described as “some of the dialogue and all of the music,” the Lake Dillon Theatre’s concert production of Irving Berlin’s greatest musical, “Annie Get Your Gun,” promises to be a treat for lovers of a good tune.With hits like “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “They Say That Falling In Love Is Wonderful” and “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better,” the stage saga of Annie Oakley getting her man with her gun has been an audience favorite since its Broadway premiere in 1946.Annie Oakley’s real life story was somewhat different than the musical version. She and Frank Butler were never rivals, since he always admitted that she was the better shot. In fact, it was a case of love at first sight for both of them. She beat him when they first met at a shooting match in Cincinnati, and they never competed against each other again. Instead, they joined forces and entered Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show together as seasoned professionals – with Annie as the star. They also had a love-affair of a marriage that lasted for 50 years, ending only in her death in 1926.Ever one to appreciate a great love story, Broadway and Tin Pan Alley king Irving Berlin joined forces with librettists Herbert and Dorothy Fields to recreate the story, making it into one of the great Broadway musicals – and male-female stage rivalries – of all time.According to Lake Dillon Theatre director Chris Alleman, the basic storyline and about 30 percent of the dialogue will be included in their production – just enough to tie the wonderful songs together.
If audiences are pleased with the concert version, Alleman said that a fully staged production of the entire musical may be in the works one day for the production company.”I think there is a possibility we could do it,” he said. “One of the things we’ve added in the last two years is a summer stock program. We’re doing a big show in the amphitheater this August – ‘Gypsy.’ We could do ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ there as well. The stage alone is the size of my entire theater.”In this week’s concert production, the role of Annie Oakley will be played by Lake Dillon Theatre favorite Kelly Renoux, while her love interest and professional rival Frank Butler will be played by another Lake Dillon Theatre favorite – Alleman himself, who will wear two hats, as leading man and director.”These concert productions are a good opportunity for me to get onstage every once in a while without having to make a huge time commitment,” said Alleman. “I’m not a big lover of performing – I’m a director from the core out – but I like to get on the stage once in a while. If I’m onstage once a year I’m happy – and if I’m not, I’m happy too.”Alleman has definite ideas about how the musical version of Frank Butler should come across. “He’s swaggering and a little chauvinistic, but he’s got to be likeable and he has to have a sense of innocence about him,” he said. “He’s chauvinistic, but he doesn’t realize it.”
But, Alleman adds, with concert productions and their shorter rehearsal schedules, the music takes precedence over individual character interpretation.”With as few rehearsals as we have, you can’t delve into the characters as much as if you had a two-month rehearsal process,” he explained. “We put these concert productions together with just a handful of rehearsals, so it’s about tightening up the songs and very simple staging.”And for a musical like “Annie Get Your Gun,” generations of theater-goers have agreed that the music, after all, is the main attraction.”First and foremost is Irving Berlin’s music,” said Alleman. “He has such a sense of capturing the essence of these characters. And nobody writes a love song like Irving Berlin – except for Cole Porter. Plus, it’s based on two real life characters that have an iconic allure.”And everyone loves a good love story – especially if it has comedy,” he added. “And it’s hard to find another show as comedic as this one.”
Live TheaterWhat: Concert production of “Annie Get Your Gun”When: Today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m.Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, 176 Lake Dillon DriveTickets: $15 for adults and $12 for students. For more information or tickets: Call (970) 513-9386 or visit http://www.lakedillontheatre.org
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