Author: bisaacson

Annie Get Your Semi-professional Gun

CENTERVILLE — Seeing a musical written about a historical character like Annie Oakley is a pleasure in itself.  Along with Carrie Nation, she’s one of my favorite women in American history.  And this here wingding of a tale is full of Wild Western hootenanny like shootin’ matches, dancing, and Indians saying and doing things that would have a modern-day playwright sued into the Middle Ages by the ACLU. April Ann Lindgren stars in Roger Memorial Theatre’s (Tues, Thurs, Sat) cast as the backwoods sharpshooter Annie Oakley.  She never gave a fella the time of day, but when handsome professional gunslinger Frank Butler (B.J. Whimpey) comes to town, she gets a hankerin’ for a Frankerin’. After giving him a public lesson in marksmanship, Annie is hired by his manager—Buffalo Bill—to join the Wild West touring show.  The story, which revolves around their romance, is predictable; but cut it some slack, it debuted in 1946. The only part of the story that I don’t get is Annie’s change from lovestruck girl who would do anything for Frank to the girl who sings about how his wedding plans are bunk and she wants things totally different. Did her adventures touring Europe or Frank’s pride cause the change? Lindgren and Whimpey both do admirable jobs with their characters.  Lindgren is a strikingly beautiful protagonist, has a sweet voice, and plays the tomboy well (though she could draw some more...

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Everyone wins at ‘Bingo’

SALT LAKE CITY — Walking into Bingo at The Grand Theatre felt like walking into a bingo hall.  I wondered if the audience—complete with a healthy contingent of old ladies—misread their newspapers! More likely, they came like the rest of us to enjoy an uplifting musical comedy that just happens to be about their favorite pastime. The Off-Broadway success Bingo revolves around the broken friendship between four women, Vern (Camille Van Wagoner), Patsy (Loria Baldi Call), Honey (Erica Hansen), and Bernice (Wanda Cooper).  At the heart of it are sore feelings over the events on a dark and stormy bingo night 15 years ago. The show begins with the buoyant number “Girl’s Night Out,” which sets up the action nicely and is easily the musical standout.  You will be singing it in your head on the way out of the theater, or your money back.  Before long the audience is brought into the action as the theater becomes a bingo hall complete with cards (included in the program), caller (Jeff Parry), and fabulous prizes.  While playing bingo with the cast may be a little gimmicky, it’s even more enjoyable than it sounds (“I can’t wait to play bingo again,” I scribbled in my notes). The script is peppered with funny one-liners and throw-aways.  There are plenty of in-jokes for the initiated, but you don’t need to be a bingo fanatic to get most of them.  In the end,...

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