Annie Get Your Gun opened at the Imperial Theatre on
May 16, 1946. It had been written specifically for Ethel Merman.
Playwright Dorothy Fields had felt that casting Merman as Annie
Oakley would guarantee a surefire hit.
The story revolves around Annie Oakley, an illiterate hillbilly
with a knack for shooting guns. Persuaded to join Buffalo Bill's
travelling Wild West Show, she soon falls hopelessly in love
with Frank Butler, the show's featured shooting ace. But when
Annie eclipses Frank as the show's main attraction, she realizes
she'll have to make some hard choices if she wants to win the
man she loves.
The New York production of Annie Get Your Gun ran for
1,147 performances and was the third longest running musical
of the 1940s. It was the biggest Broadway hit of Merman's career.
In 1966, she returned to the role for a revival at Lincoln Center.
The 1950 screen adaptation starred Betty Hutton and Howard Keel.
The 1999 Broadway revival showcased Bernadette Peters. While
she lacks Merman's brass and crassness, Peters stands as the
prettiest and sexiest Annie to date, not to mention probably
the greatest singer of the bunch. The show was somewhat updated
for modern times. Not only did Peter Stone make revisions to
Herbert and Dorothy Fields's original book (the story is now
a show within a show, namely Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show),
but there have been revisions to Berlin's original score as well.
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