A few months shy of its third anniversary, Annie Get Your Gun will shoot its last Sept. 1.
The hit revised revival of the 1946 Irving Berlin musical, directed and co-choreographed by Graciela Daniele, celebrated its 1,000th performance July 25. It began as a tryout in Washington, DC, Dec. 29, 1998 (rehearsals began Nov. 2, 1998). It now ends earlier than expected (sources said October or December were the likelier close dates, since sales had been so good recently) and leaves room for pre-planning of the Marquis Theatre's next tenant, Thoroughly Modern Millie. The theatre will be dormant this fall, presumably leaving open the possibility of some kind of limited engagement specialty act getting booked there before Millie begins in February 2002.
Annie Get Your Gun's official performance count by Sept. 1 will be 35 previews and 1,046 regular performances.
The current company of Annie Get You Gun is led by Crystal Bernard and Tom Wopat. Bernadette Peters played Annie Oakley originally in this staging (snagging a Tony Award, as did the show). The other Annies of the run included Susan Lucci, Cheryl Ladd and the hot-selling Reba McEntire. Country-star McEntire will star in a CBS-TV movie musical version of the show, now in development stages.
The current cast includes Peter Marx, Kerry O'Malley, Gerry Vichi, Claci Miller, Eric Sciotto, Conrad John Schuck, Larry Storch, Jewel Restaneo, Nicholas Jonas and Blaire Restaneo. 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 McEntire earlier this year. The country star infused the show with new energy, better-than-before reviews and the box office exploded.
Its Broadway opening was March 4, 1999. The production has made its money back, a spokesperson said. A national tour and an original cast album were 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 McEntire, whose final show was June 22. McEntire's splash had a ripple effect, and Annie sold well over the summer, playing in the 70 percent of capacity range.
In 1998, Peter Stone revised the original book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields to get rid of any offensive references to Native Americans. Stone also made the show's theatrical frame a Buffalo Bill tent-show retelling of the Annie Oakley story. In fall 2000, after the show had played more than a year, 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.
Ethel Merman was legendary in the role on stage in the 1940s and in a 1966 revival and Betty Hutton starred in the film.
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.
Thoroughly Modern Millie was designed for the Marquis. Previews begin March 19, 2002, with an opening planned for April 18. The Millie producers originally targeted a fall opening, but when the Weisslers didn't announce an Annie Get Your Gun closing, the Millie plan was bumped to spring, leaving cast members scrambling for fall work before rehearsals begin in 2002.