Doin' What Comes Natur'lly, McArdle Stars in Annie Get Your Gun

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02 Dec 2006

Andrea McArdle
Andrea McArdle
Photo by Aubrey Reuben
Andrea McArdle, the actress who cut through the fog of the 1970s with her piercingly optimistic voice in Broadway's Annie, takes aim at another "Annie" on Dec. 2: sharpshooter Annie Oakley.

Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia revives Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun for the holidays, putting Philly native McArdle centerstage in a big-voiced role she seems born to have played.

The actress became famous as Little Orphan Annie in Annie in 1977, and has since starred in Broadway and regional productions of State Fair, Les Misérables, Gypsy, Starlight Express and Cabaret. The Tony Award nominee now assumes a role created by Ethel Merman in 1946.

(Memo to producers: McArdle would seem to be dream casting for other Merman-created roles, including Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes and Kate in Girl Crazy.)

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At the Prince, associate artistic director Richard M. Parison is staging the 1966 version of the Berlin show (with book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields) about Oakley's competition/romance with showman Frank Butler (played by Philly favorite Jeffrey Coon).

Parison told Playbill.com that McArdle, who was raised in Philly, was a perfect match for Annie Get Your Gun — a clarion-voiced singer who can act the sensitivity, innocence, the fire and the hope of one of the most famous musical theatre roles.

The score will include "An Old Fashioned Wedding," added for the 1966 revival. ("Who Do You Love, I Hope" and "I'll Share It All With You" were cut in 1966.) The property was revived for a third time on Broadway in 1999, and boasted a revised book by Peter Stone and some changes to the score.

The musical numbers include such standards as "There's No Business Like Show Business," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," "I Got Lost in His Arms," "The Girl That I Marry," "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "They Say It's Wonderful," and more.

The Prince production is choreographed by Mercedes Ellington, music directed by Eric Barnes, with design by Todd Ivins (scenic), Maggie Baker Atkins (costume), Shelley Hicklin (lighting) and Otts Munderloh (sound).

Opening is Dec. 9. Performances continue to Dec. 31.

The cast will include John Scherer as Charlie Davenport, Mary Martello as Dolly Tate, Christopher Coucill as Col. Buffalo Bill, Cynthia Raff as Mrs. Potter-Porter, Arthur Ryan as Sitting Bull, Dan Schiff as Foster Wilson/Pawnee Bill, Caitlin Reilly as Minnie Oakley, Josie Andrews and Kristina Biddle as Jessie Oakley, Erica Mabry and Jamieson O'Brien as Nellie Oakley, Wesley Ian Cappiello and Conor O'Brien as Little Jake Oakley, and Conrad Ricamora, Kevin Cammarota, Benjamin Scott Kramer, Michael Philip O'Brien, Michael Newman, Alexis Sims, Anne Connors, Jodi Kuhlman, Elyse Taylor and Andrea Norah Wright.

Director Parison said he has been consulting with Native Nation representatives to make sure Native American characters and plot points are addressed with authenticity and sensitivity.

For more information, visit www.princemusictheater.org.