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Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields

Artisan Center Theater

Director- Reid Horton
Executive Producer/Artistic Director- Dee Ann Blair
Co-Executive Producer- Rick Blair
Associate Producer- Natalie Burkhart
Associate Artistic Director/Education Director- Cody Walker
Director- Reid Horton
Choreographer- Chanie Thomas
Music Director- Richard Gwozdz
Stage Manager- Jeff Watson
Assistant Stage Manager- Phillip Smith
Set Design- Oliver Lukach
Light/Sound Design- Wes Taylor
Costume Design- Johna Sewell
Illuminations Design- Doug Vandergrift
Prop Design- Rayven Harris
Hair and Makeup Design- Parker Gerdes
Set Construction- Oliver Lukach, Jeff Watson, Eric Luckie, Jennifer Dooley, Roger Drummond
Scenic Painting- Oliver Lukach, Jeff Watson, Jennifer Dooley
Light/Sound Operators- Luiz Quezada, Karen Woolley
Photography- Al Smith
Graphic Designer- Brian Blair

Frank Butler- Joshua Smith
Buffalo Bill Cody- Billy Myers
Dolly Tate- Sherry Marshall
Tommy Keeler- Hunter Domzaiski
Winnie Tate- Sarah Wilson
Charlie Davenport- Don Heitzman
Chief Sitting Bull- John Lattimore
Annie Oakley- Mary Ridenour
Jessie- Ella Madis
Nellie- Ashley Ross
Little Jake- Matthew Jones
Running Deer/ Messenger Ensemble- Andrew Villa
Eagle Feather/ Ensemble Jonathan Myers
Foster Wilson/Pawnee Bill- Kyle Holt
Mac the Prop Man/Sleeping Car Porter/Ensemble- Chris Stancil
Mrs. Sylvia Potter-Porter/ Ensemble- Denise Jasper
Mrs. Schuyler Adams/Ensemble- Noe Myers
Ensemble- Madison Jones
Ensemble- Lauren Sphar
Ensemble- Jinger Jones
Ensemble- Delaney Ross
Ensemble- Matthew Phillips
Ensemble- Brooke Morrison
Ensemble- Connor Jakubik
Ensemble- Duncan Parkes

Reviewed Performance: 3/8/2019

Reviewed by Kathleen Morgan, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Though Annie Get Your Gun initially opened on Broadway in 1946, it’s every bit enjoyable and relatable today as it was 70+ years ago. Enjoying several revivals (including the 1999 version starring Bernadette Peters) and many national tours, this show is re-discovered with each new generation. Artisan Center Theater brought the story of this remarkable firebrand of a markswoman to life- with all the glamor of show business in tow, too.

Mary Ridenour is the reason I walked away from Annie Get Your Gun being totally blown away. Words like brilliant, phenomenal, and astounding seem like inadequate descriptions for her performance, but she was all three and then some. Ridenour had a tenacious energy that captured both the free spirit, the sisterly affection, and the wild energy that makes up Annie Oakley. Her incredibly powerful voice had me stunned when she threw her head back and sang, "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun." And yet, she gave me goose bumps as she sang the sweet, blues-y "Moonshine Lullaby" to her younger brother and sisters (Matthew Jones, Ella Madis, and Ashley Ross). Ridenour's versatility and strength in singing, acting and dancing shows what excellence in musical theatre looks like.

Joshua Smith’s Frank Butler was cool, calm, and suave- the confident and popular ladies' man. Smith’s acting and dynamic with Annie was relaxed and spot-on. At times his voice sounded faint, or perhaps it just seemed that way when up against Mary Ridenour’s belting voice in many scenes. Smith mastered all the elements of Frank: The headstrong marksman, the debonair flirt, and the stubborn man whose ego is easily bruised by a strong woman! Shortcomings aside, Frank Butler rises to the occasion by the end of the show.

Dolly Tate was one of the many supporting characters that make this show so much fun. The constant butt-end of a joke, Dolly was full of attitude and overconfidence for someone with so little sense (and intelligence). Sherry Marshall played Dolly so well- her timing was perfect and her jealous manner with Frank was fierce and believable. Her flouncing and brightly colored skirts matched her big, sassy personality too!

The characters often accompanying Frank Butler were Buffalo Bill Cody (Billy Myers), Charlie Davenport (Don Heitzman) and Chief Sitting Bull (John Lattimore). The trio had a great chemistry and played off each other well. Myer’s stage presence and perpetual enthusiasm was particularly engaging to watch. Heitzman played Charlie, the levelheaded, reasonable businessman- and also never missed a beat when it came to teasing Dolly.

Lattimore’s Chief Sitting Bull was austere but full of dry humor that gave a serious, but secretly cheeky impression. By the end of the show, this crew joins Pawnee Bill’s gang (Kyle Holt). Holt played a boisterous Pawnee Bill and an incredulous Foster Wilson.

The love story in the background of the show was that between Tommy Keeler (Hunter Domzaiski) and Winnie Tate (Sarah Wilson)- Dolly’s little sister. Their dynamic was cute and sweet throughout the show. “Who Do You Love, I Hope,” was a particularly endearing number the two shared. Their hopeless, romantic devotion to each other was a needed juxtaposition to Annie and Frank’s often tempestuous relationship. Despite objections, racist remarks and ultimately an annulment thrown at them by Dolly, the two remained steadfast in their commitment to each other.

Even if an audience member had never seen Annie Get Your Gun before, they’d likely know the classics like, “There’s no Business Like Show Business,” “Anything You Can Do,” or “I Got the Sun in the Mornin’.” With such familiarity comes a higher expectation from the audience. Unfortunately, the big show opener “There’s No Business Like Show Business” missed the mark. The ensemble lacked coordination in an over-ambitious dance sequence. One had the feeling they were overly focused on getting to the next thing without fully pouring themselves into the moment. Although the first song of the show was not all that it could have been, it was still fun and full of energy from the whole ensemble (Andrew Villa, Jonathan Myers, Chris Stancil, Denise Jasper, Noe Myers, Madison Jones, Lauren Sphar, Jinger Jones, Delaney Ross, Matthew Phillips, Brooke Morrison, Connor Jakubik, Duncan Parkes).

Besides the opening number, the choreography for Annie Get Your Gun was enjoyable and fun. The number “My Defenses Are Down” displayed a particularly creative, if quirky, sequence from the men. The waltzing during the ballroom scene toward the end was delicate and delightful. And of course, the exuberant “Hoedown” dance in the middle of “I Got the Sun In the Morning” was perhaps the most fun and energetic set of choreography in the whole performance.

The direction of Annie Get Your Gun was truly superb. The show was full of energy, well-timed comedy, action and humor. There was never an awkward transition, and each actor did a good job of facing different parts of the audience, given the theater-in-the-round setting. The principals, besides being immensely talented, had great stage chemistry with all fellow actors with whom they interacted.

Artisan Center Theater made creative use of their 360-degree layout. In one corner, they had the Western Wilson hotel. In another, they had an entrance occasionally used as Annie's dressing room, and in another they have the entrance to the performance tent. The set pieces, particularly the benches used for the train scene, were simple but perfect for capturing each new setting. Joshua Smith and Annie actor used their firearm props with ease, as if they were used to handling rifles all their lives. Lighting and projection work were also well done in this performance. Screens above the audience at times displayed either the countryside or announcements (such as the announcement for Buffalo Bill Cody’s show). The lighting changed throughout the show to reflect different times of day and different moods as well.

The costumes for Annie Get Your Gun were fun and true to the time period in which they were set. The actors were generally dressed in traditional Western gear; with Annie’s dress improving gradually as the show progressed. In the ballroom scene at the end of the show, all the women wore gorgeous red gowns; Annie’s being the most stunning of all. Annie’s hair was also a sight to behold. Although never truly unkempt, her dark, thick curls became more tame as the show went on (and had my guest wondering whether or not they were real!)

As Artisan Center Theater’s program stated, this show truly is from the golden age of musical theater. It’s a mix of spunky and sentimental, and has songs that will be stuck in your head for days after seeing it.

Annie Get Your Gun
Artisan Center Theater
February 22nd – March 30th 2019
MTRFS 7:30pm, additional Saturday matinee 3pm
Artisan Center Theater- 444 E Pipeline Rd, Hurst, TX

To purchase tickets, visit the box office or the Artisan Center Theater website
Tickets: $16-$28