By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013
Reba McEntire as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun
Not to belabor the point, but Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun is yet another role I would really like to have seen Patti LuPone play. Even while enjoying Graciela Daniele's 1999 revival starring Bernadette Peters, I couldn't help wishing it were LuPone's more rugged spirit (and powerful voice) I was seeing in the part. It was then, for me, a shock out of left field later on when I found myself delighted by country music star Reba McEntire as Annie in that production. I didn't know McEntire's work and didn't expect to be a fan of her singing, so it was a wonderful surprise when her performance won me over, hook, line and sinker. McEntire brought a compelling, open, innocent, vulnerable quality to the stage, like she didn't know what all this Broadway stuff was about, but she was excited to find out! It worked perfectly for the character of Annie and was an excellent contrast to the character's prowess at shooting (Oakley's forte), something about which we as a Broadway audience could presumably learn a thing or two from McEntire. The match of performer and material couldn't have been more copasetic, and at the heart of the evening was a star who loves to perform live for an audience inhabiting the stage in a Broadway musical in the classic, generous way that made Broadway musicals great and made a star a star.
(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)