Musicals at Richter, Danbury: Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun is a perfect show for outdoor theater. With the theme of a traveling Wild West show, this musical is not only a great set up for a colorful open air setting, but many of the songs are wonderful Broadway standards. Musicals at Richter has the perfect sharp shooting Annie Oakley when it comes to performance, however the rest of the production overall, misses the mark.
L. Nagel of Torrington plays Annie Oakley. She is the choral director of Holy Cross High School in Waterbury and sings with the Waterbury Chorale. Her vocals hit the bull’s eye every time. She’s got a powerful set of pipes that go well with her feisty and engaging personality. However, this is a one-star show; all else is lackluster. An important element is missing from the action – the excitement of a Wild West show.
Surprisingly, Robert Bria of Redding, as Annie’s rival and love interest Frank Butler wasn’t up to snuff. He never once looked like he was in love with Annie Oakley, which belied many of the lyrics and his lines. Directed and choreographed by Lauren Nicole Sherwood with musical director Jerold Goldstein, the show didn’t mesh well. Because the timing was off, laughter was lost. Dances were cumbersome and sloppy. The orchestra had its own problems with discordant sounds coming from the tent, and timing also an issue. Two important competition scenes were reduced to less than mediocre because of poor timing. When either Annie or Frank shouted pull, a shot was supposed to be heard and the announcer then shouted hit. The timing was so off on the night this show was reviewed that it was almost comical, but that’s not where the comedy was supposed to be.
Some of the costumes looked appropriate for the Wild West show, but many looked oddly out of place and amateurishly patched together, especially in the chorus ensembles. What worked best in the show and kept the audience happy were Berlin’s songs like There’s No Business Like Show Business, You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun, and Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.
Others in the cast included: Mike Armstrong, Beth Saultz, Karl Hinger, Rachel Salvador, Steven Taliaferro, Richard Frey, Steve Scott, Thomas Keough, Katharine Yeargin, Jane Shearin, Jack Canevari, Kevin McCarthy, Owen Benfield, John Armstrong, Beth Bria, and Barbara Kessler. Also included were an adult and youth ensemble making up the chorus.
This production plays through Aug. 8. Box office: 203-748-6873
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]