Check Out The Classic Musical

With Songs By Irving Berlin at The WBT

Published: Monday, October 9, 2017 By: Nancy Sasso Janis Source: PATCH

Review: 'Annie Get Your Gun' at Westchester Broadway Theatre - Naugatuck, CT Patch

“Aim at a high mark, and you will hit it!” - the lifelong motto of Annie Oakley

Elmsford, NY - Westchester Broadway Theatre’s 202nd production is ‘Annie Get Your Gun,’ a bright rendering of the musical written by Dorothy Fields and her brother Herbert to star her friend Ethel Merman. Rodgers and Hammerstein, fresh from their success of ‘Oklahoma,’ produced the original Broadway production. Irving Berlin initially declined when asked to write the musical’s score, for he worried that he would be unable to write songs to fit specific scenes in a “situation show.” Mr. Hammerstein persuaded him to give it a shot, and a few days later the composer came up with “Doing What Comes Naturally,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” and the iconic “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Mr. Berlin did not throw away his shot.

The WBT production, starring Devon Perry in the title role and Adam Kemmerer was Frank Butler, was directed and marvelously choreographed by Richard Stafford (with his associate choreographer Kristyn Pope) with musical direction by Shane Parus.

Ms. Perry (‘Godspell,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz’) brought a strong presence to her fourth role at WBT as the fearless sharpshooter. Her glorious singing voice easily handled the memorable numbers and she gave Annie Oakley spunk to spare. Mr. Kemmerer was blustery as the swelled-headed Frank Butler, who in the end really does love Annie.

It was a treat for me to see the wonderful Sarah Cline in the supporting role of Dolly Tate. I first saw Ms. Cline in Sharon Playhouse productions and this lady is full of talent. She brought good stage presence to Frank Butler’s flashy and sarcastic assistant who has no use for Annie Oakley. The audience loved her comic touches. The youngest members of the cast who played Annie’s siblings included Haylie Shea Christiano (Molly in ‘Annie’) as Little Jake, Ruby Griffin (July in ‘Annie) as Nellie Oakley and Hannah Jane Moore (Linda Manero in ‘Saturday Night Fever’) as Jessie Oakley.

Kilty Reidy returned to WBT to play Charlie Davenport and Gary Lynch, fresh off the national tour of ‘Dirty Dancing’ where he played Max Kellerman, was a strong Buffalo Bill, while Kevin C. Loomis made his WBT debut as his competitor Pawnee Bill. Marshall Factora played Chief Sitting Bull. Joseph Cullinane was dance captain for the ten-member ensemble.

Costumes designed by Kara Branch that were provided by Costume World Theatrical USA in Florida captured the look of the 1800s and moved well for those wonderful dance numbers. The set designed by Steve Loftus included some large projections and the lighting and sound were up to the usual WBT standards. Hair and wig design by Andrew Gmoser effectively featured lots of long pipe curls.

There were several dance interludes between scenes when the ensemble members got to show off their dance moves; one was even a tap number. The song list included some numbers from the original production and the show did not open with ‘Show Business,’ so for me, it had a freshness. ‘I Got the Sun in the Morning’ and ‘An Old Fashioned Wedding’ were highlights for me.

For dinner, I tried the Show Special, a generous serving of chicken marsala with penne pasta that was very good. The signature cocktail was called ‘The Sharpshooter’ and it was served in a souvenir glass. The performance I attended had three birthdays being celebrated and WBT did it up right for all three honorees. ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ runs through November 18. The new season will commence after the holiday show ‘Christmas Voyager’ and will include ‘A Chorus Line,’ ‘Sister Act,’ ‘Anything Goes,’ and ‘Newsies.’