The program for “Annie Get Your Gun” at Hale Center Theater Orem says the show is “so full of hoopin’ hollerin’ shootin’ and smoochin’ that you’ll be plum tuckered out by the time it’s done!” I don’t know what any of that gobbledygook means, but this is a festive, funny show, extremely well-played by its lead actors.
It is based on the true story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who toured the world with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show, developing a rivalry and romance with co-star Frank Butler.
Written by Herbert and Dorothy Fields with songs by Irving Berlin, the show’s structure is not particularly good ‹ it has a secondary romance that goes nowhere and an overlong American Indian ceremony taking up space ‹ but the songs are glorious and the dialogue is snappy and clever.
Richard Losee is a stern and sober Frank Butler, providing perfect contrast to Heather Ferguson’s loosy-goosy Annie. What a natural star Ferguson is! She owns the stage ‹ not by stealing scenes, but by performing with such confidence that she makes it look easy. She has a sweet, vibrating voice and an obvious flair for comedy. Not to put undue pressure on her, but she is the single greatest reason for you to see the show.
The aforementioned irrelevant secondary romance is no less irrelevant here, but it is played with great charm by Rachel Woodward and Jacob Widmar as Winnie and Tommy, two of Annie and Frank’s fellow performers. Their songs, “I’ll Share It All with You” and “Who Do You Love, I Hope,” are among the most agreeable in the show.
And though that Indian segment adds little, it’s hard to find fault when Sitting Bull is played by the endlessly affable Jerry Elison.
Annie’s backwoods brothers and sisters are played by Carynn Groves, Riley Groves, MaKenna Tinny and Caleb Tinny ‹ collectively, the most adorable children on the face of the earth.
Syd Riggs is director, with Cindy Winkel as music director and choreography by Sara Marie Crabb. Crabb continues the Hale tradition of making the tiny stage seem big; I assume front-row audience members have been kicked by dancers at some point in the theater’s history, but I’ve never seen it happen.
Yes, there is much to like in this show and little to complain about. It’s an old musical, and even an old-fashioned one, but it seems as fresh and enjoyable as ever.
Should you go? Certainly, unless your condition is such that getting “plum tuckered out” would be detrimental to your health.