Somewhere, Irving Berlin is smiling.
Director-choreographer Graciela Daniele's revised revival of the songwriter's 1946 smash musical, Annie Get Your Gun, celebrates its 1,000th performance at the July 25 matinee at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.
The show took home the 1999 Best Musical Revival Tony Award, and Bernadette Peters also won a Tony playing the wild west sharpshooting legend, Annie Oakley. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler stayed committed to the production, which was not embraced at first by the all-important New York Times, and the couple struck gold with the casting of Reba McEntire earlier this year. The country star infused the show with new energy, better-than-before reviews and the box office exploded. Cheryl Ladd and Susan Lucci were also replacement Annies during the run of the production. The show began in a tryout in Washington, DC, in late 1998. Its Broadway opening was March 4, 1999. The production has made its money back, a spokesperson said. A national tour was spawned, as well.
Bernard, a veteran of TV's "Wings" and the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun, graduated to the Broadway staging June 23. She followed the tough-act of Reba McEntire, the country superstar who reinvigorated the show's box office for six months. McEntire's final show was June 22, but momentum she started has paid off this summer. The theatre was at 73.4 percent of capacity the week of July 16-22. In 1998, Peter Stone revised the original book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields to get rid of any offensive references to Native Americans and in fall 2000, Daniele and co-choreographer Jeff Calhoun reconsidered some of their earlier choices and trimmed "I'll Share It All With You" and the "Entr'acte," which many observers viewed as helpful to the storytelling.
Wopat, who originated the role of Frank Butler in this Tony Award-winning revival, returned to Broadway with Bernard — before New York, they appeared in the national tour together.
A Southern accent always slipped into Crystal Bernard's Nantucket waitress character on TV's "Wings," but the actress got to play country girl full-out when she joined the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun, as Annie Oakley, in Atlanta, April 17.
Bernard appeared in TV's "Happy Days" and "It's a Living." She has been singing gospel music since the age of three, when she toured with her father. She sang a hit song, "(I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight," with Peter Cetera, and is a songwriter whose work has been recorded by pop artists such as Paula Abdul, Lisa Stansfield and Tracie Spencer.
Ethel Merman was legendary in the role on stage int he 1940s and in a 1966 revival and Betty Hutton starred in the film. CBS will make a TV movie musical version starring McEntire.
Wopat, once of TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard," and veteran of Broadway musicals, was nominated for a 1999 Tony Award for playing Frank Butler.
For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.
Industry observers wondered if Annie Get Your Gun would make it beyond Labor Day, a traditional closing time for shows. All indications now point to the show continuing at least to the end of the year. It's an open secret in the industry that the world premiere of the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie is slated for — and was designed for — the Marquis. That show recently announced it would open in spring 2002 rather than the fall, at a theatre to be announced (though the Marquis is still the expected destination). Officially, Annie Get Your Gun is an open run.