The Norton Singers current show is "Annie Get Your Gun", a musical with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The story is a fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley (1860-1926), who was a sharpshooter from Ohio, and her husband, Frank Butler. It first opened on May 16, 1946, ran for 1,147 performances and starred Ethel Merman as Annie. The Norton Singers version is the 1999 revival with a revised book by Peter Stone and new orchestrations. (Songs omitted from the original include "Colonel Buffalo Bill", "I'm a Bad, Bad, Man" and "I'm an Indian, Too".) This production is structured as a "show-within-a-show'' with Frank Butler introducing the characters while he and the chorus sing "There's No Business Like Show Business". When Buffalo Bill's Wild West show visits her town, Annie Oakley enters a shooting contest, wins and is asked to join the show. She has fallen in love with the star of the show, Frank Butler, and agrees to join, although she has no idea what "show business" is, however she is in informed with the classic song. Over the course of the musical, Frank, although insisting that the girl he wants to marry should wear satin and lace and smell of cologne ("The Girl That I Marry'', he becomes enamoured of the tomboyish Annie. Unfortunately, his ego is bruised and he becomes jealous when she becomes a star and walks out on her. After various complications, Annie and Frank come together again, only to have one last shooting duel in the finale ( " Anythingy You Can Do". Annie tries to lose to Frank but he sees thru it and the match ends in a tie and they both go off into the sunset together. Director Judy Post casts the best performers in these roles while musical director Tony Torelli obtains top harmonic quality from them and choreographers Judee and Courtney Bottomley create some sensational dances which they execute perfectly, making it a memorable musical treat for audiences of all ages to enjoy with a standing ovation as its reward.
Judy blocks the show splendidly, making sure her cast members are seen by one and all. Michael Duarte designed the many sets for the show while Daniel Kozar created the numerous and colorful costumes. Tony also conducts his 19 piece orchestra which produces lovely music for the enjoyment of the audience. The many dances by Judee and Courney include the cakewalk, the polka, the grand waltz and soft shoe. Courtney does double duty in this show. Not only is she one of the choreographers but she also plays the leading role of Annie Oakley. Courtney plays the country bumpkin perfectly and she has a powerful voice to sell her many songs. She captures the falling in love at first sight aspect of the role and later on Annie tries to become the pink powdered girl Frank sings about. Courtney's songs include "Do'in What Comes Naturally", "You Can't Get a Man With A Gun'', ''Moonshine Lullaby'', "Show Business'' , "I Got Lost in his Arms" and ''I Got the Sun in the Morning". While most of the numbers are belted out, "I Got Lost" shows off her softer side. Courtney's duets include the lush and lovely romantic ballad "They Say It's Wonderful", the counterpoint duet which was written for the 1966 version called "Old Fashioned Wedding" and the dueling song "Anything You Can Do" where Annie and Frank try to top each other on different competitions. Her leading man is played by Kevin Mischley who does a great job as the conceited but handsome man who steals the young girl's heart. He takes charge of the stage on his first entrance singing "Show Business" and shows off his melodic voice in "The Girl That I Marry'' and in "They Say It's Wonderful'' duet. Kevin does a soft shoe dance with the boys in "My Defenses Are Down" where he admits his love for Annie at last. the duets of "Old Fashioned Wedding" shows off his softer side while "Anything You Can Do'' is a belting one.
The subplot in the 1999 version revolves around Tommy Keeler, a knife thrower who is half Indian and half Irish who is in love with Winnie Tate, sister of Dolly who is Frank's assistant. Joseph Arsenault plays Tommy while Kristen Quartarone plays Winnie. As the juvenille and ingenue, they get to sing "I'll Share It All with You" where he woos her and "Who Do You Love, I Hope" where they meet a year later and rekindle their romance. Of course both songs are big dance numbers which show off Joseph and Kristen's dancing prowess in soft shoe, cake walk and polka routines. Joseph is tall, dark and handsome while Kristen is petite, blonde and gorgeous. He is one of the best dancers I have seen locally and he just finished choreographing "Fame" for Boston Latin and will be assisting in the dance numbers for "Uncommon Theatre's production of "Rent" in July. Kristen is a junior at Rhode Island College where she just finished performing as Lola in "Damn Yankees". Her bitchy, bigoted sister, Dolly is played by Amy Rogers. The character is a shrewish woman who at 37 years old wants Frank for her love interest. Dolly finally ends up with company manager, Charlie Davenport, played by Wayne Nettnay who narrates each scene change in the show. His one liners about despising Dolly are hilarious. Daniel Gravely plays Buffalo Bill who is in charge of the Wild West show and is the rival of his old friend/enemy Pawnee Bill played by Peter Molitor. Their competitive battles over who's show is better include trying to woo Sitting Bull played by Ty Waterman who is a hoot in this role. Peter also doubles as Foster Wilson, the hotel manager who sings "Doin What Comes Naturally" with Annie while he collects her winnings as his own. Annie's cute as buttons sisters and brother are well played by Addy and Livvy Marcus and Mickey White. They sing "Doin What Comes Naturally" and "Moonshine Lullaby" with Courtney. The chorus gets to show off their singing and dancing talents throughout the show, too. So for a look back at the days of the wild west, be sure to catch "Annie Get Your Gun" before time runs out.