Glendale Centre Theatre stages ‘Annie Get Your Gun’

The Glendale Centre Theatre is presenting a version of Irving Berlin’s classic musical “Annie Get Your Gun” that incorporates both the original with its 1999 Broadway revival.

“Annie Get your Gun” is about legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and beats gunslinger Frank Butler in a competition. There’s also an on-again, off-again romance between the two, all fictionalized in song and dance.

Tim Dietlin, executive producer of the Glendale Centre Theatre, directed the production and shares the role of Butler with another actor throughout the run. The musical also stars Victoria Strong as Oakley and Tom Killam as Buffalo Bill.

The production opened Friday and was a hit, said Dietlein, who added that the fast-paced fun and humor in the show went a long way with younger audiences.

“We opened really strong, better than most of our openings,” Dietlein said. “We’ve had really great houses and a strong opening with really great feedback from the audience. They even gave us a standing ovation, which is hard to get in L.A. these days.”

This is Dietlein’s third time directing and acting in “Annie Get Your Gun.” Although this version of the musical mixes scripts from old and new productions, it is closer aligned with the 1946 version because it retains all of the original music, Dietlein said.

Another change Dietlein made was to switch from relying on firing blanks from real guns to something more theatrical.

“Instead of shooting, the ensemble… all have rifles and they’re tapping them on the ground rhythmically,” Dietlein said. “When it’s time for the shots to go off, they all hit the floor real loud.”

The lack of blanks also had a practical purpose. Rifle shells used to litter the floor at the end of the shooting-contest scenes, and they would cause a lot of cleanup and safety problems because the show is staged in the round.

Dietlein said he also spent time with Strong and others to teach them how to properly hold and handle their weapons to make sure the show maintains authenticity, particularly when it comes to representing Oakley’s shooting skills.

Dietlein said his background knowledge comes from his summers in southern Utah as a cowboy, herding cows, shooting and hunting.

“Annie Get Your Gun” will continue at the Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., through July 1, with mostly weekend performances.

For information about prices and showtimes, visit glendalecentretheatre.com.

jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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