The Central Wyoming College Theater Department is proud to announce the opening of “Annie Get Your Gun” on March 6, 2020. The production will play in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theater through March 14.
The story of “Annie Get Your Gun” blends romance, show business, and the old American wild west. The story is focused around famed American sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her time with the celebrated Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show. In an era when women are to be dainty and feminine, in rolls rough and tumble Annie, who makes her way into the Wild West Show by besting expert rifleman, Frank Butler, in a shooting match. As Frank and Annie’s competition heightens, so does their romance. As the Wild West Show faces financial ruin, the couple faces adversities that they must overcome to keep their skills alive and their love strong. Set to the music of Irving Berlin, the show contains such musical theatre classics as, “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Doin’ What Comes Naturally,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “My Defenses Are Down” and “Anything You Can Do.”
“Annie Get Your Gun” originally premiered in May of 1946 and was produced by famed duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. However, the CWC production will be using the 1999 revival of the script, which was adapted by Peter Stone. Director Joey West selected the show because the context of the play is in Wyoming, which brings an air of nostalgic relevancy to the area.
“It was also our most highly requested show by our audiences,” West said.
West chose to produce Stone’s adapted script because it went through a renovation, leaving outdated portrayals and unnecessary songs and lines in the dust. While West acknowledges that the original 1946 rendition of the musical was culturally insensitive, he saw this as an opportunity to create an inclusive theater production. West worked closely with Ron Howard, an enrolled Northern Arapaho tribal member, to create an ethical and authentic portrayal of Chief Sitting Bull as well as a culturally relevant show.
“At first glance, in the script, the language of Sitting Bull seems very stereotypical, but I’ve put great effort into portraying this role with dignity, humor and as a three-dimensional character, rather than what you might see in a production 50 years ago. I also like how Sitting Bull is actually the hero of the show, as he’s the one who saves the Buffalo Bill Show and the Pawnee Bill Show three times. He’s a father figure to Annie Oakley and that’s very satisfying.”
Howard has strived to make his portrayal of Chief Sitting Bull regionally significant by deciding to wear traditional dress and give Annie a name in the Arapaho language.
“At one point in the show, Chief Sitting Bull gives Annie an “Indian name,” Howard said. “In the script, it was just gibberish that meant nothing in the Lakota language. Since I’m not Lakota, I gave her an Arapaho name: Nii’eit Hiisei Hii’ Hii’. Pronounced, it’s Nee Eight Hee Say Hee Hee. It means Sure Shot Girl. I’ve also decided to wear actual Native attire including a warbonnet on loan from the American Legion Post 84 in Arapahoe.”
Additionally, Howard worked with the cast to provide cultural and historical information as well as advice on dialogue that pertains to American Indian issues.
“The rest of the cast has been very aware of their dialogue towards the Native issues, taking care not to be insensitive or racist,” Howard said. “We’ve all taken steps to make this show friendly for Natives and non-Natives.”
Tickets are available online at tickets.cwc.edu or at the Central Wyoming College box office.