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Theatre Review: Annie Get Your Gun

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's been over two decades since the Music Circus staged this wonderful old chestnut by Irving Berlin, and a whole generation of kids has come of age since. But the songs Irving Berlin wrote back in 1946 are still as catchy as can be, including the famous opening number.

"There's no business … like show business… Like no business I know…"

Lots of young adults recognize that melody, and the lyrics, but have never seen the show the song comes from. The current Music Circus production offers a great introduction. Newcomer Beth Malone plays Annie Oakley, and from the moment she strolls onstage as a hillbilly chick with a rifle, dressed in buckskin with a couple of freshly-shot pheasants dangling from her waist, Malone is pretty close to irresistible. She never misses with her rifle, but when she suddenly falls in love - this is a musical, after all - she realizes that she's going to need more than a steady trigger finger.

"Oh, you can't get a man with a gun! With a gun! With a gun! Oh, you can't get a man with a gun."

Malone's performance as Annie Oakley is something to behold - she's got a sunny smile and overflowing confidence in her own abilities. And even though she's short of stature and as skinny as a rail, she somehow manages to project herself as the biggest personality on stage, taking no guff from cowboys twice her size. And Irving Berlin's score remains a thing of beauty, studded with standards like "Doin' What Comes Naturally" and "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better." The Music Circus was organized 61 years ago with the mission of presenting shows like this one. When they do a good job, as they do here, the results are both entertaining and artistically rewarding, as a great old show from a bygone era is vividly brought back to life.

Sacramento's Music Circus presents "Annie Get Your Gun" through Sunday, August 14th.

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