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Players hold ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ auditions / January 10, 2018

“Annie Get Your Gun,” featuring Irving Berlin’s blockbuster music, is coming to Clarksville.

Charlie Simmons, president of Clarksville Community Players and director of the upcoming musical, is urging a large turnout of actors, singers, and dancers for auditions Sunday, Jan. 28 and Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Clarksville Fine Arts Center.

For 70 years, famous stars of the theater from Ethel Merman to Bernadette Peters have made their mark playing the backwoods Annie Oakley whose incredible shooting ability takes her from Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West Show” to the halls of European royalty.

The script by Dorothy Fields and her brother Herbert Fields builds on the true story of Phoebe Ann Mosey, born in a log cabin in Darke County, Ohio in 1860. She fired her first shot at the age of 8 and by age 12 was the chief provider for her large and hungry family. Her fame as a sharpshooter spread and was recognized by Col. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody who hired her for his Wild West Show and who changed her name to Annie Oakley.

This fictionalized story includes the love of her life, Frank Butler, who was himself an ace shot and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

With the music and lyrics written by Irving Berlin, this play with its many revivals has passed the test of time. When the play was first produced in 1946, critic Vernon Rice declared, “Irving Berlin has outdone himself this time. No use trying to pick a hit tune, for all the tunes are hits.” Audiences agreed, leaving the theater humming, “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Anything You can Do,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “The Girl That I Marry,” among the many hit songs.

At the time of the 1999 revival, New York Post critic Clive Barnes wrote that this was “Berlin’s greatest achievement in the theater and 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 theater’s enduring triumphs.”

Simmons’ production team includes Mecklenburg native Don Hite as music director. The two men previously collaborated on CCP shows, most recently “Big River” and “Into the Woods.” Susan Dalton is vocal coach and choreography will be by Melissa Carney. Maureen Bellissimo is producer.

The large cast includes female lead Annie Oakley (mezzo-soprano), male lead Frank Butler (baritone), Dolly Tate, Frank’s flamboyant assistant (alto), Buffalo Bill, owner of the Wild West show (baritone), Tommy Keeler, knife-thrower, part Native American (tenor), Charlie Davenport, manager of the Wild West show (baritone), Winnie Tate, Dolly’s sister (mezzo-soprano), Annie’s brother and sisters Jessie (alto), Little Jake, and Nellie. Other speaking roles include Chief Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief and holy man, Pawnee Bill, owner of competing western show, and Foster Wilson, hotel owner.

The ensemble includes cowboys, roustabouts, cowgirls, royals of Europe, Indians and New York socialites.

All roles are open and CCP is calling all actors dancers, and singers of all ethnicities, Actors, including those auditioning for ensemble, should come prepared with a one-minute song to sing in the style of the show. There will not be an accompanist at the auditions, but you may bring a device that plays digital or a CD accompaniment, if needed. There will also be an accompanist track if you want to do a number from the show. Dress comfortably for movement and dance exercises.

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