A Chain of Musicals: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

Ethel Merman in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
Ethel Merman in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!

If you like Anything Goes, then you might like Annie Get Your Gun.

Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun were both created to suit the talents of Ethel Merman and each was written by the one of the leading composer-lyricists of their time: Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. Both shows have also been revised over the years, Anything Goes more successfully, with Annie Get Your Gun suffering a curate’s egg of a revisal in the hands of Peter Stone (the original book is by Herbert and Dorothy Fields) for the 1999 Broadway revival.

Annie Get Your Gun tells the tale of Annie Oakley, a sharpshooter who gained her fame in a Wild West show during the 1880s, and how she met and married her husband, Frank Butler. The story isn’t historically accurate, but it makes for great entertainment. Highlights include “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Moonshine Lullaby”, “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”, “Anything You Can Do” and “An Old-Fashioned Wedding”.

Annie Get Your Gun was written by Irving Berlin, who tackled the show skeptically: he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to write a score for the then new-trend towards integration in musical theatre. While Annie Get Your Gun is certainly more loosely constructed than its Rodgers and Hammerstein cousins like Oklahoma! and Carousel, Berlin fashioned a score that tells the story well enough (there are some pieces that tend towards the generic) and provided a number of palpable hits. While Merman put a definitive stamp on the role, that’s hasn’t stopped other divas from following in her footsteps: Mary Martin, Dolores Gray, Debbie Reynolds, Kim Criswell, Judy Kaye, Bernadette Peters, Susan Lucci, Reba McEntire, Andrea McArdle and Jane Horrocks have all tackled the role to varying degrees of success. I wonder what Judy Garland might have been like in the film had she been at her best, instead of the run down waif the MGM studios had forced her to become by that time.

So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Annie Get Your Gun. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…

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