It’s 1946 and Rosie the Riveters are being told to clear out of the factories to make way for the war heroes returning home. Never mind that many were pretty darned good at work; their place was in the kitchen supporting their man.
That’s the cultural moment in post-War USA when “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Ethel Merman with book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields made its big hit. It’s the story of a backwoods country girl who goes boy crazy for the lead shooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The happy ending is when she wins her man by pretending to be less of a good shot than she really is.
If your feminist bones are rattling at that synopsis this is not the show for you. Don’t even begin to think through an anti-racist grid, because Native Americans have far more to protest about than a poor choice of team name.
Foggedaboutit—I say. You only have to hear the first chords of the Overture to be reminded of how Irving Berlin’s tunes from this show are about as classic at they get. Remember that this show brought us “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Doin’ What Comes Naturally”, “The Girl That I Marry”, “They Say It’s Wonderful”, “Anything You Can Do”, “I Got the Sun in the Morning”, and more. If it weren’t so darn politically incorrect certainly the lovely tune of “I’m an Indian Too” would be in that roster also of musical theater DNA backbone.
Colette Todd’s charismatic smile, perfect pitch ham-it-up and golden chords make her a most memorable Annie. Her smile draws us in to the show like a high-powered magnet. Todd brings us big talent that lets us hear the beauty of the music with new ears.
Her love interest Frank Butler played by James Rank has an Opera-trained voice that goes a long way to helping make this a toe tapper too. Orchestra, ensemble, talented child actors—everyone does their part.
If you love musical theater and want to know the A-Z of important milestones on Broadway don’t miss this show. It’s a short run over the holiday time and though not holiday –themed it has that feel-good texture of the season.
This show runs through December 31 at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston.
For tickets or information call 847 920 5360 or visit the Light Opera Works website.
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Photos: Chris Ocken