Cockpit's 'Annie Get Your Gun' a commendable version of a classic


Holly Pasciullo makes a perky Annie Oakley in the Cockpit in the Court production of "Annie Get Your Gun." Actually, everything about the show is perky, thanks to a very capable cast and the more than capable direction of Todd Pearthree, who also did the choreography.

The dancing is rather elaborate for the Cockpit in the Court, but Pearthree manages very well with an accomplished group of young men and women.

"Annie Get Your Gun" was first presented in New York in 1946, where it ran for 1,147 performances. Ethel Merman starred, and the score was by Irving Berlin. This was back in the days when show tunes could make the pop charts, and almost every number from the show did exactly that.

The musical ran for three years in London and was filmed in 1950 with Betty Hutton starring as the irrepressible Annie. Howard Keel was Frank Butler, the sharpshooter she loved but lost because she was a better shot than he.

This does date the show. Like Katharine Hepburn in the 1942 "Woman of the Year," Annie, in the 1946 musical, had to pretend that she was inferior to the male she loved. Only then could they live together in harmony, so long as she assumed the lesser role. All she had to do was intentionally miss a few shots.

The feminist movement was dormant at the time, so no one said anything, and the musical became a part of the American musical tradition. Phyllis Maguire and Barbara Eden did "Annie" productions at the Painters Mill Music Fair, and in 1966, Merman appeared in a revival of the show. She was a little too old to be playing a naive country girl, but she winked at the audience, letting the spectators know that she knew what we knew.

Merman did a television version the following year, some time after Mary Martin did her television version. She's a hardy gal, this Annie, and she should continue to be, thanks to the score, one that includes "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Doin' What Comes Naturally," "They Say It's Wonderful," "I Got Lost in His Arms," "The Girl That I Marry" and "You Can't Get a Man With A Gun."

Claire Rowe did the scenery at the Cockpit. It is most impressive.

Pasciullo does justice to the songs that come her way. So does Mark Blackburn as "the swollen-headed stiff," Frank Butler, but both have to work for their stage time when Nadine Hass is around.

Hass plays Dolly Tate, a member of the Wild West show to which Butler belongs, and if she is doing the role just a little broadly, it is to the advantage of all.

J. R. Lyston is Buffalo Bill, Everett C. Rose is Pawnee Bill, and Michael Isennock is Chief Sitting Bull ('Never put money in show business"). Good work by all.

This particular "Annie Get Your Gun" has its excesses and shortages, but it sends you out of the theater humming the tunes, and if an "Annie" production can do that, it has met the basic standards.

And the Cockpit version does more than that, and the opening night audience was aware of it. They gave the company a standing ovation.

"Annie Get Your Gun" opens the Mainstage season at the Cockpit in the Court Summer Theater at the Essex Community College. It will remain there through June 30.

"Annie Get Your Gun"

*** The Irving Berlin musical about the country girl who became a sharpshooter in a Wild West show and fell in love with the star of the show.

CAST: Scott Frutchey, Nadine Hass, Everett C. Rose, Mark Blackburn, Holly Pasciullo, J. R. Lyston, Michael Isennock.

DIRECTOR: Todd Pearthree

RUNNING TIME: Two hours with one intermission.

TICKETS: 522-1269

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