Annie Get Your Gun

AN R&H THEATRICALS TITLE

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  3f, 7m, 3girl(s), 1boy(s)

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin / Book by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields

Annie Oakley is the best sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill's show, but when her star power threatens to overshadow the man she loves, can she beat him in a final shoot-out?

Photo: Lenny Stucker

Annie Get Your Gun
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 7m, 3girl(s), 1boy(s)
  • Duration
    Duration
    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Period, Docudrama/Historic, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Nominee: Two 1967 Tony Awards
Description
Annie Oakley is the best shot around, and she manages to support her little brother and sisters by selling the game she hunts. When she's discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill, he persuades this novel sharpshooter to join his Wild West Show. It only takes one glance for her to fall head over heels for dashing shooting ace Frank Butler, who headlines the show. She soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction which, while good for business, is bad for romance. Butler hightails it off to join a rival show, his bruised male ego leading the way, but is ultimately pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The rousing, sure-fire finale hits the mark every time in a testament to the power of female ingenuity.
History
The idea of doing a musical based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley originated with Dorothy Fields in the mid 1940s, who never considered anyone but her friend Ethel Merman for the lead. (By this time Herbert and Dorothy Fields had co-authored four musicals for Merman, the most recent being Something For The Boys in 1943). Merman instantly agreed to take on the show, but when the Fields’ longtime producer Mike Todd turned the project down, they took it to a team of producers who, though novices in the field of producing, knew a thing or two about musicals nevertheless—Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Having scored with two folk American musicals of their own (Oklahoma! and Carousel), Rodgers & Hammerstein were all too happy to sign on as producers of what was originally called Annie Oakley. Hammerstein's longtime partner Jerome Kern was to write the music, Dorothy Fields the lyrics, and Dorothy and Herbert were to co-author the book. Jerome Kern's sudden death in November of 1945 changed everything.

Rather than scuttle plans for Annie Oakley, Rodgers, Hammerstein and the Fields turned instead towards finding the right team or person to take on the job of writing the score. All four felt unanimously that there was one person absolutely right for the job, but since he wrote words as well as music, Dorothy Fields would have to relinquish her role as lyricist. She had no trouble making her decision—if Irving Berlin would write the score for Annie Oakley, Dorothy Fields would happily step aside.

Irving Berlin had not written for Broadway since Louisiana Purchase in 1940, and, fresh from a patriotic three year stint with his revue This Is The Army, he was at first skeptical that his unique style was still in fashion. The musical revolution that Rodgers & Hammerstein had fomented with Oklahoma! changed the rules, and Berlin wasn’t sure he wanted to play by them. Still, it made sense when Rodgers & Hammerstein suggested that Berlin borrow the script, look at it over the weekend and see if he couldn't come up with a tune or two.

Berlin took their advice and the following Monday morning he came bounding into their office with three completed songs under his arms: "You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun," "Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly," and "There’s No Business Like Show Business." Bullseye again.

Directed by Joshua Logan, with sets by Jo Mielziner and costumes by Lucinda Ballard, starring Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley and Ray Middleton as Frank Butler, and with a rousing new title, Annie Get Your Gun opened at the Imperial Theatre, New York, on May 16, 1946. It was a smash success and the critics cheered.

"For verve and buoyancy, unslackening, there has seldom if ever been a show like it," said William Hawkins in the World Telegram. In the Post Vernon Rice declared "Irving Berlin has outdone himself this time. No use trying to pick a hit tune, for all the tunes are hits." Lewis Nichols of the New York Times modestly maintained that "it takes little gift of prophecy to add that [Annie Get Your Gun and Ethel Merman] will chant their saga of sharp-shooting for many months to come." In fact, Annie Get Your Gun ran on Broadway for an astounding 1,147 performances. (The first musical after Oklahoma! to go over the 1000+ performance plateau, Annie Get Your Gun was, along with Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, South Pacific and The King and I, part of the elite quartet of longest running musicals in Broadway's golden era.)

Dolores Gray starred in the 1947 London production, which ran at the Coliseum for 1,304 performances. Mary Martin headed the U.S. national tour, which began in October of 1947 and travelled for nineteen months; she subsequently played Annie to John Raitt's Ray Butler in a 1957 NBC telecast. MGM released the movie version of Annie Get Your Gun in 1956; Betty Hutton starred (in a role originally slated for Judy Garland), and Howard Keel played Butler.

In 1966 Ethel Merman re-created her role in a Music Theater of Lincoln Center production, presented by Richard Rodgers. Irving Berlin wrote a new song for this production, "An Old Fashioned Wedding."

In the years since, hundreds of actresses have played Annie Oakley, from Paris (Annie Du Far-West) to Berlin (Schiess Los, Annie!), from Evi Hayes in Melbourne, Australia to Chiemi Eri in Tokyo, Japan. Annie Get Your Gun has been seen in Kuala Lumpur, Zimbabewe, Venezuela and throughout Europe.

In the 1990s Annie Get Your Gun kept "doin’ what comes natur’lly" with a sumptuous studio recording from EMI Records, featuring Kim Criswell and Thomas Hampson under the musical direction of John McGlinn; a U.S. national tour starring Cathy Rigby, directed by Susan Schulman, which originated at the Houston Grand Opera in July 1992 and toured throughout the following year; and a U.K. national tour and West End production starring Kim Criswell and John Dierdrich.

At the end of the 20th century Annie Oakley aimed her bullets over Broadway once more, with a Tony-winning revival starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat. Opening in April 1999, it ran on Broadway for over two and a half years, and spawned a successful national tour. In its second year, country music star Reba McEntire made her Broadway debut in the title role, and took the town by storm.

"Berlin’s greatest achievement in the theatre," wrote New York Post critic Clive Barnes about the ’99 revival, "should carry Annie Get Your Gun happily into the next century and a bit beyond. It will always be a musical for the ages, one of the Broadway theatre’s enduring triumphs."

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • Elementary School / Primary
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups
Cautions
  • Gun Shots

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

Annie Get Your Gun is set in the 1800's around the Mid-West and in New York City.

Specific Locations
The Wilson House
A Pullman Parlor in an Overland Steam Train
The Fair Grounds in Minneapolis
The Arena of the Show Tent
The Deck of a Cattle Boat
The Ballroom of the Hotel Brevoort
A Ferry en route to Governor's Island
Near the Fort on Governor's Island

Casting

3f, 7m, 3girl(s), 1boy(s)
Cast Attributes
  • Multicultural casting
  • Roles for Children
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
PRINCIPALS
2 Women
5 Men

FEATURED
1 Woman
3 Girls
2 Men
1 Boy

ENSEMBLE
Large singing-dancing ensemble with numerous small roles

CHARACTERS
Little Boy
Little Girl
Charlie Davenport
Dolly Tate
Iron Tail
Yellow Foot
Mac
Foster Wilson
Frank Butler
Annie Oakley
Little Jake - her brother
Nellie - her sister
Jessie - her sister
Minnie - her sister
Colonel William F. Cody a.k.a. Buffalo Bill
Mrs. Little Horse
Mrs. Black Tooth
Mrs. Yellow Foot
Indian Boy
Conductor
Porter
Waiter
Major Gordon Lillie a.k.a. Pawnee Bill
Chief Sitting Bull
Wild Horse
Pawnee's Messenger
Footman
Mr. Schuyler Adams
Mrs. Schuyler Adams
Dr. Percy Ferguson
Mrs. Percy Ferguson
Mr. T.L.C. Keefer
Mr. Ernest Henderson
Mrs. Ernest Henderson
Mrs. Sylvia Potter-Porter
Mr. Clay

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Country/Western
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

Overture - Orchestra
1. Act I Opening - Orchestra
2. "Colonel Buffalo Bill" - Charlie, Dolly and Ensemble
2a. Colonel Playoff - Orchestra
3. "I'm A Bad, Bad Man" - Frank and Ensemble
4. "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" - Annie, Kids and Wilson
5. "The Girl That I Marry" - Frank
6. "You Can't Get A Man With a Gun" - Annie
7. Encore: "You Can't Get A Man With a Gun" - Annie
8. Entrance - Orchestra
9. Gun Fantasy - Orchestra
10. Melos - Orchestra
11. "There's No Business Like Show Business" - Annie, Frank, Buffalo Bill and Charlie
12. Encore: "There's No Business Like Show Business" - Annie, Frank, Buffalo Bill, Charlie and Ensemble
13. "They Say It's Wonderful" - Annie and Frank
14. Show Business Utility - Orchestra
15. "Moonshine Lullaby" - Annie, Trio and Kids
16. Buffalo Bill Utlitiy - Orchestra
17. Wild West Ballet - Orchestra
18. Reprise: "Show Business" - Annie
19. "My Defenses Are Down" - Frank and the Boys
20. Motorcycle - Orchestra
21. "Opening Chant" - Ensemble
22. "Indian Dance" - Ensemble
23. "Ceremonial Chant" - Ensemble
24. "I'm An Indian Too" - Annie
25. Finale Act I: "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun" - Annie

Act II

26. Entr'acte - Orchestra
27. Opening Act II - Orchestra
28. "I Got Lost In His Arms" - Annie and Ensemble
29. Ballroom Scene - Orchestra
30. Reprise: "Show Business" - Frank, Dolly and Pawnee Bill
31. "I Got The Sun In The Morning" - Annie and Ensemble
32. "An Old Fashioned Wedding" - Annie and Frank
33. Reprise: "The Girl That I Marry" - Frank
34. Utility: Sun in the Morning - Orchestra
35. Utility: Man With A Gun - Orchestra
36. "Anything You Can Do" - Annie and Frank
37. Utility: Can't Get A Man - Orchestra
38. Reprise: "Show Business" - Company
39. Finale: "They Say It's Wonderful" - Company
40. Exit Music - Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Flute I&II (Both Flutes doubling Piccolo)
Oboe (Optional doubling English Horn)
Clarinet I&II (Clarinet II doubling Bass Clarinet)
Bassoon
Horn
Trumpet I&II
Trumpet III
Trombone I
Trombone II
Trombone III (Bass Trombone)
Piano
Violin A-B, C-D (Divisi)
Viola (Divisi)
Cello (Divisi)
Bass
Harp
Guitar
Percussion
Trap Set (Snare Drum, Bass Drum)
Timpani
Cymbals
Triangle
Vibraphone
Xylophone
Bells
Temple Blocks
Tambourine
Wood Blocks
Field Drum
Maracas
Tom-Tom

Materials

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
30 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor

1 Flute I&II
1 Oboe
1 Clarinet I&II
1 Bassoon
1 Horn
1 Trumpet I&II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Trombone III
2 Percussion
2 Violin A-B, C-D
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Harp
1 Guitar
1 Logo Pack

Piano Only:
7 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Logo Pack

Additional Resources And Services Available

Media

Press

"A musical for the ages, one of the Broadway theatre's enduring triumphs." — The New York Post

"What a wonderful musical Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun is: the melodies just shake out of it in an endless cascade, and the simple story is unexpectedly involving. We care!"  — The New York Post

"You can't get a man with a gun...but you can get a sure-fire audience pleaser by reviving Irving Berlin's best musical." — Houston Chronicle

"A rich, romantic story, a melodious score and brilliant lyrics."  — New York Journal American

"One of the musical theatre's finest scores, by Irving Berlin, and a witty, often amusing book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields."  — Theatermania

Music Samples

Videos

  • "Anything You Can Do"

  • Annie Get Your Gun - 1999 Tony Awards

More videos +

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Authors

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989). With a life that spanned more than 100 years and a catalogue that boasts over 1,000 songs, he epitomized Jerome Kern’s famous maxim that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” Berlin wrote scores to 13 Broadway musicals, contributed to seven revues, wrote so ...

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Herbert Fields

Herbert Fields (1897-1958) was a celebrated librettist and screenwriter. The brother and sister team of Herbert and Dorothy Fields was part of a vibrant New York theatrical family that also included their brother, Joseph, a prolific librettist and playwright, and their father, Lew, the famous producer, actor, and di ...

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Dorothy Fields

Dorothy Fields (1904–1974) was an award-winning American librettist and lyricist. The brother and sister team of Herbert and Dorothy Fields was part of a vibrant New York theatrical family that also included their brother, Joseph, a prolific librettist and playwright, and their father, Lew, the famous producer, acto ...

View full profile

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