It's been an open secret for what seems like a year. Finally, it's official. Country star Reba McEntire will be the next Annie Oakley in Broadway’s Annie Get Your Gun, a press spokesman at the Pete Sanders office confirmed. She will take over the role now played Cheryl Ladd Jan. 26, 2001 and stay with the show until May 27. The casting will be officially announced on Nov. 13.
Producers Barry and Fran Weissler have reportedly been pursuing McEntire for some time. The red-haired McEntire is routinely regarded as the biggest female singer in country music. She began pursuing an acting career in the early '90s, appearing in a string of television movies and the occasional film, often executive producing the TV programs in which she appeared. In the 1995 television film, "Buffalo Girls," McEntire actually played Annie Oakley.
It is uncertain whether the current star Patrick Cassidy or a new actor will star opposite Reba McEntire. Some sources have suggested fellow country music star Clint Black as a possible Frank Butler, but the spokesman denied that casting.
Cheryl Ladd toted a gun in the smash TV series, "Charlie's Angels," and on Sept. 6, her itchy trigger finger got satisfied, when she made her Broadway debut in Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre. Patrick Cassidy also joined the troupe as rival and romantic interest Frank Butler. Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat created the roles in the new revival; their final show was Sept. 2. Wopat will join the national tour, with Marilu Henner, in October.
The Broadway staging of the classic Irving Berlin musical was dark Sept. 3-5 to allow for the cast changeover. The new cast has a slightly different score to sing: the "Entr'acte" and "I'll Share It All With You" (for characters Winnie and Tommy) have been cut in an effort to streamline the narrative. This cut reflects the show as it is seen on the current tour.
Graciela Daniele staged Annie Get Your Gun and co-choreographed it with Jeff Calhoun. The book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields was altered by Peter Stone to erase any offensive references to Native Americans.
Co-star Patrick Cassidy is the son of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, and notably appeared in the world premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins.