If you haven't seen a Brandywiners production at Longwood Gardens, you are certainly in for a treat! It had been so long since I had been to Longwood Gardens; I forgot how beautiful it is. Your ticket to see Annie Get Your Gun also gives you entrance into Longwood Gardens for the day, so you can certainly spend your afternoon walking around the gardens, and then your evening enjoying a great show.
Annie Get Your Gun is such a fun show. It tells the somewhat true story of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, a real life couple who met because of a bet. Annie beat Frank in a shooting match when she was only 15 years old, and then married Frank a year later. Annie Oakley continues to be a strong role model for women because of her ambition and great success in what was very much a man's trade. One thing is for certain--Annie Oakley proved to the world that women can do everything that men can do, if not better. Irving Berlin captured that sentiment with what seems to be Annie's motto with his song "Anything You Can Do."
The chemistry between Rebecca Buswell Kotsifas as Annie Oakley and Robert Welch as Frank Butler is something that can only come organically. There is no question why Annie Oakley is so infatuated with Frank and vice versa. From the moment you meet Annie Oakley, it's impossible to not fall in love with her and her 3 younger siblings. The original tomboy, Annie sets up the theme of the show with "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun." Rebecca Buswell Kotsifas is a power house on stage. From belting show stopping numbers to the softer ballads like "Moonshine Lullabye," her versatility as a vocalist shines through.
Robert Welch, the "big, swollen-headed stiff" Frank Butler, is a man's man. Just when you think Frank will never change, Robert Welch really surprises you and shows just a hint of Frank's softer side. One of the most fun numbers in the show is "My Defenses are Down," when Frank lets the boys know that he can't go out on the town with them because he's in love with Annie.
Some of the funniest moments of the show come from Frank's brash assistant, Dolly Tate (Nance Weber). She's not exactly the most forgiving person. Dolly may very well be the most selfish character in Annie Get Your Gun, but Nance Weber goes for it, and you can't help but like her in spite of all of her faults. Dolly might drive her sister Winnie (Carolyn Peck) a hard time, but you know deep down it's because she is just being protective. The romance between Winnie Tate and Tommie Keeler (Ricky Rotandi) starts off a bit star-crossed, but you can tell that these two will do anything to be together. Carolyn Peck is graceful, determined, and very funny as Winnie.
All in all, the Brandywiners production of Annie Get Your Gun is a very charming show, and a must-see. The atmosphere of the Open Air Theatre at Longwood Gardens really adds to the show. The remaining shows for Annie Get Your Gun begin at 8:30pm this Thursday, August 1 through Saturday, August 3.
For tickets, you can call the box office at 302-478-3355 or 800-338-6965 or visit www.brandywiners.org.
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