August 2005

Annie Get Your Gun
Music & Lyrics by Erving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields
August 2 – September 3, 2005Massey HallToronto
I finally got to see that classic of American musical theatre, Annie Get Your Gun, starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Louise Pitre.

Let me report that, without the benefit of sets — this 'staged concert' had tall silk banners hung upstage to create the sense of a circus Big Top tent — the two leads and the 25-member cast told the much beloved story about the meeting and eventual romantic merger between two legendary sharpshooters of the Wild West, Annie Oakley and Frank E. Butler.

When Pitre sang, "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun", with her tomboyish heart aflutter, we all laughed as Annie realized that if she ever hoped to win Frank's heart, she'd better perfect her feminine allure.

As played by Louise Pitre, Annie Oakley has a full heart and a sensitive mind: we're consistently moved by Canadian-born Pitre's expressive voice and honest acting. (She was a Tony Award nominee for the smash hit, Mamma Mia!).

As for Billy Ray Cyrus (Doc the tv series, and the feature film, Mulholland Drive), he portrayed Frank E. Butler as a basically reasonable and caring man solidly in love with Annie. Also, this casting of Cyrus as Frank E. Butler was an especially inspired choice, according to the women in the audience.

The singing throughout is commendably simple and clear, in contrast to the belting style of singing that abounds these days. This production has poise, its style is emotional yet restrained, and the entire cast pays close attention to the meaning of the lyrics. And, as an added bonus, there's an excellent 28-piece orchestra on stage. This time no synthesizer orchestra. What a treat this was.

Let's consider the songs that have come out of Annie Get Your Gun.

Louise Pitre (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
"They Say That Falling in Love Is Wonderful", is a mature heart-felt ballad that evokes love's melancholy, "in every way."

There's "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better", as sung by Annie to Frank. Let's just say they're not getting along at this point in the play.

And, of course, the NEXT and the BIGGEST song, the song that's a near-anthem of the entertainment business, "There's No Business Like Show Business", is sung brightly by the entire cast, to end it all, and send us home.

We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by David Fujino
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for The Live Music Report

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