YAA is excited to bring you a new blog column called Paco’s POV. Our wonderful Orchestra Manager, Francisco José “Paco” Cosió Marron, will be writing these every week to give you a bit more background on the production we are currently working on. Check back often to get your fill of Paco’s POV!
Mr. Berlin’s Annie…. became an international phenomenon shortly after its opening.
Annie Get Your Gun premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on May 16, 1946 and ran for 1,147 performances with Ethel Merman starring as Annie and Ray Middleton as Frank Butler. Enjoying its popularity, the musical toured the U.S. from October 3, 1947, starting in Dallas, Texas with Mary Martin as Annie. This tour also played Chicago and Los Angeles. Martin stayed with the tour until mid-1948. It also had international appeal and success starting with its West End premiere on June 7, 1947 at the London Coliseum where it ran for 1,304 performances and an Australian production that opened at His Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne on July 19, 1947.
The popular music translated well conveying the American culture and a French version, Annie du Far-West began production at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on 19 February 1950 and ran for over a year. Its first Broadway revival was in 1966 at the Music Theater of Lincoln Center. This production opened on May 31, 1966 and ran until July 9, followed by a short 10-week U.S. Tour. It returned to Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on September 21 for 78 performances. Ethel Merman reprised her original role as Annie with Bruce Yarnell as Frank. The libretto and score were revised: The secondary romance between Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate was completely eliminated, including their songs "I'll Share it All With You" and "Who Do You Love, I Hope?", and the song "An Old-Fashioned Wedding" was specially written for the revival and added to the second act. This version of the show is the one we are performing and was the production version telecast in an abbreviated ninety-minute version by NBC on March 19, 1967.
In 1976, there was a Spanish-language version produced in Mexico City with the name of Annie es un tiro. In 1977, Gower Champion directed a revival for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera starring Debbie Reynolds as Annie. And in 1986 it returned to London via a David Gilmore production, with American rock star Suzi Quatro as Annie and Eric Flynn as Frank, opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre in England.
In 1999, a new production had its pre-Broadway engagement at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. This revival starred Bernadette Peters as Annie and Tom Wopat as Frank. This production had a revised book by Peter Stone and new orchestrations, and was structured as a "show-within-a-show", set as a Big Top travelling circus. "Frank Butler" is alone on stage and Buffalo Bill introduces the main characters, singing "There's No Business Like Show Business", which is reprised when "Annie" agrees to join the traveling Wild West show. The production dropped several songs (including "Colonel Buffalo Bill", "I'm A Bad, Bad Man", and "I'm an Indian Too"), but included "An Old-Fashioned Wedding". There were several major dance numbers added, including a ballroom scene. In this version, the final shooting match between Annie and Frank ends in a tie.
Why was the show rewritten? Shows reflect a snippet of the history, the culture and the mores of ‘its’ age. By the late 90s, the mores and conscience of America had moved on several of the subjects depicted in the original including the roles of women, the place of American indigenous in history, and New World history as a whole. Next time we will try to understand the times in the 40s, the 90s and now to get a better view of our musical.