Annie Get Your Gun
Jenn Gambatese fires on all cylinders as Annie Oakley in Goodspeed Opera House's enjoyable revival of the classic 1946 musical.
Nevertheless, Jenn Gambatese fires on all cylinders as the legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley. A glorious singer and a nuanced interpreter, she brings all sorts of fresh shadings to every memorable Irving Berlin number, especially "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun."
It's chastening to realize that an issue looming large in public perception in the immediate aftermath of World War II -- whether a woman could or should compete on equal terms with a man -- seems just as relevant today. And Gambatese absolutely manages to make Annie's predicament immediate.
A backwoods hoyden, Annie is a goner the minute she claps eyes on her more sophisticated rival Frank Butler (played by Kevin Earley, who offers up both laid-back charm and a magnificent singing voice). But even later, post-makeover, she's just as puppyish where matters of the heart are concerned, and just as steely-eyed when it comes to questions of competence. Under Rob Rob Ruggeiro's deft direction, this through-line remains front and center, and the story is impervious to some of the script's more leaden dialogue, which gives off a whiff of the vaudeville circuit.
Among the large supporting cast, Michael Nichols manages to imbue "injun" chief Sitting Bull with friendly-giant majesty; Chelsea Morgan Stock is winsome as the ingenue Winnie Tate; and if Andrew Cao isn't quite up to the vocal demands of her paramour, Tommy Keeler, he nonetheless makes a great physical match for her.