REVIEW: I laughed, I cheered, I nearly sang along to Annie Get Your Gun

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
March 2nd, 2013

Lucky for all of you who didn’t come out for the opening of the Boundary Musical Theatre’s production of Annie Get Your Gun last night– there’s still five more shows you can catch before it’s gone for good.

The 1946 Broadway Musical was an ambitious production for the community theatre group to take on, but clearly it was not beyond their talents.

They did a bang up job of bringing Broadway to Grand Forks and this opportunity to see this funny and entertaining play should not be missed.

Director Deborah Baker along with the more than 20 cast members and 20 more production crew put on an entertaining evening of well-executed comedic dialogue, beautifully done show tunes all with a fun cowboy feel.

Joni Aitken, who plays the lead character Annie Oakley, was captivating, charismatic and lovable. She executed her lines beautifully and has an unbelievable set of lungs. Top all that off with the fact she had to maintain the accent of a backwoods American, and she stole the show.

I have never had the opportunity to see Aitken in action before and I won’t be missing another show she’s in.

Gary Smith, who plays the surely, womanizing Frank Butler, was a wise choice as the supporting character to Aitken. Like Aitken, he also has a strong stage presence and played the part of the stubborn character quite well.

I’m not sure how Bob Dupee, who plays the formidable Chief Sitting Bull, managed to keep a straight face while executing his often ironic and funny lines, but he did a great job of it.

I loved to hate Butler’s assistant Dolly Tate, well played by Natalie Zmurchyk. Zmurchyk executed her funny lines quite naturally and it was entertaining to follow along in her antics as she tried to get rid of Annie.

A most notable youth in the production is Kyra Hogan, who plays 17-year-old Winnie Tate. Her voice is stunning and she did a terrific job with a difficult role. She had to play a girl who is in love with the (culturally) wrong guy – namely Tommy Keeler played by Aaron Baker. The two had several duets together, all well done. I thought the strategic kissing scene was a good compromise when working with a teenaged actor.

I loved the energy of Brett Swope, who plays Col. Buffalo Bill Cody, and his side kick Charlie Davenport, played by Dean Engen. Engen was a terrific choice for the loud and charismatic Charlie Davenport – he kept the comedy going and his expressive face was made for the part.

And finally, I have to say Pat McNish, who plays Mrs. Wilson, was awesome. I loved every detail of her outlandish costume – from the magnifying glass around her neck to the wagging flower on the top of her hat. You couldn’t help but like the clownish part of her while hating the manipulative part who takes advantage of Annie by taking most of her shoot-out winnings.

As for the production crew, it was a treat to have live music to accompany the show. Music director Lorraine Barg and her ensemble did a stunning job with the complicated and numerous show tunes.

And the special effects were well-timed – a warning to those who scare easily, there is a surprising shoot-out scene you might want to prepare yourself for!

My only criticism is one that will be corrected with time – the end of the show was slightly weaker than the beginning. There were a few dropped lines, and the dancing in the ball scene was a bit stiff. That being said, this nearly three-hour long show is quite an undertaking.

Children will love the production too and is a great way to introduce them to theatre. For children under 8 I’d suggest taking in the matinee next weekend on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m. because my five year-old found the evening show was a bit late and fell asleep (and not because of the play, which he liked).

The family appropriate show runs March 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Forks Secondary School Auditorium. There will be an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 9. Tickets are available at the door or at the Christina Lake Living Arts Center or Hannah Bees in Grand Forks. Adults are $15 and students are $12.

To view the original article about the show go to https://boundarysentinel.com/news/toe-tapping-music-set-entertain-annie-get-your-gun-23411#.UTIlDKnJDFI .