February 12, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Morgan Barton almost didn't audition for the latest Brandon High School musical, "Annie Get Your Gun."
The 16-year-old sophomore who is in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy had a lot on her plate. Although she had minor roles in seven previous school productions, she had opted out of choir this year to take other electives. She didn't review the script and had no aspirations for any specific role when she tried out for the musical on a whim.
"I was just winging it and tried for whatever they wanted," said Barton. "I didn't know the story and I got the call back and we're a month into rehearsals and holy cow, I'm Annie Oakley. It's hard to fathom."
Barton landed the starring role in "Annie Get Your Gun," which will be on stage at 7 p.m., Feb. 21-22, at the BHS Performing Arts Center, 1025 S. Ortonville Road. The musical is a fictionalized account of the real Annie Oakley, born in Ohio in 1860 and who gained fame for her amazing sharpshooting skills, eventually performing with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and falling in love with fellow showman Frank Butler, whom she married.
Debbie Sebetic, BHS teacher and musical director, said she chose "Annie Get Your Gun," music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, as this year's musical production because it is "fun" and she believes audiences will enjoy the revival of a western theme, as well as the historical components.
"There are a lot of Native Americans in the show," she said. "A lot of history. Annie Oakley is the beginning of women's lib. She was really good with a gun and entered a competition against Frank. She ends up beating him. It was a man's world and suddenly this woman shows up. They have eyes for each other and then compete against each other and he's not very happy."
The musical has a cast of 30 and features 40 musical numbers, including "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," and "Anything You Can Do."
Sebetic said audiences will love the music, which is "tuneful and familiar" and the complex choreography. The castmembers were fortunate to have costumes loaned to them from Saline High School, which they had from their own production of "Annie Get Your Gun."
Brian Andrus, BHS sophomore, plays Charlie Davenport, manager of the Wild West Show— "a controlling guy."
"I like him, because he is the first role I can make my own," said Andrus, who has performed in two previous musicals. "He has two sides— he's really serious, but then he makes jokes. I think audiences will enjoy the male-female gender stereotypes and how the characters deal with and overcome them."
Barton, who had never had more than a few lines in her previous productions, is in all but two scenes in "Annie Get Your Gun" and is hoping she can do the role of Annie Oakley justice.
"A lot of people go to bed reading a novel or homework and I go to bed reading Annie Oakley," she said. "For me, learning the lines is reciting them whereever you go... The musical lets me express everything I have. On stage, no one judges you for how weird and loud you are, you can experiment. I like Annie— she goes against the grain in everything. She lived in a time when women don't shoot or wear shorts."
"I come on gawky as a scrub oak," Barton continues, falling into character. "I don't care what anyone thinks, I've been shooting since I was 10... I'm doin' what comes naturally."
Tickets for "Annie Get Your Gun," 7 p.m., Feb. 21-22, can be purchased for $10 at the door, beginning at 6 p.m., or purchased between 4-6 p.m., Feb. 19-20, at the high school.
For more information, call Jody Yettaw at 248-766-1289 or e-mail Sherri Morlock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville