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Annie Get Your Gun at Grosse Pointe Theatre: A new take on a classic musical

Grosse Pointe Theatre presents the classic musical, Annie Get Your Gun, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields.  The show will be performed in the Fries Auditorium of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road , Grosse Pointe Farms . It opens with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, November 7. Annie Get Your Gun continues with shows on November 11-13 at 8:00 p.m., November 14 at 2:00 p.m. and November 17-20 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $24. Group rates are available. Call 313-881-4004 for tickets or visit the Grosse Pointe Theatre website at http://www.gpt.org for more information. Free tickets are being given away on the Theatre Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GrossePointeTheatre.

Annie Get Your Gun is a fictionalized story of the life of Annie Oakley (1860-1926), who was a sharpshooter from Ohio , and her husband, Frank Butler. The show was conceived by writer Dorothy Fields as a show to star her friend, Ethel Merman. The 1946 Broadway production was a hit, and the musical had long runs in both New York and London , spawning several revivals, a 1950 film version and television versions. The show’s legacy is the number of well-known songs from the show which, for years, reminded the public of its original belting star.  Audience members will enjoy these musical standards: There’s No Business Like Show Business, Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun, They Say It’s Wonderful, and Anything You Can Do.

The story of Annie Oakley, as told in the musical is inaccurate, according to an Oakley family descendant, Bess Edwards, who was recently interviewed on the 150th anniversary of Annie Oakley’s birth. Nevertheless, this fantasized tail of the female sharpshooter is a rousing tribute to the traveling “Wild West” shows in which she starred back in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Director Jacqueline Di Sante (of Grosse Pointe) has put a new spin on the show for the Grosse Pointe Theatre production, setting it in a country-western bar, where the patrons reenact the story.

Cast and Crew
The cast features residents of several Metro Detroit communities including:  Deb Dworkin (Clawson) as Annie Oakley, Dennis B. Martell (Livonia) as Frank Butler, Jerry Nehr (Grosse Pointe Woods) as Charlie Davenport, Peter Di Sante, (St. Clair Shores) as Buffalo Bill Cody,     Bill Giovan, (Grosse Pointe) as Chief Sitting Bull, Terri Turpin-Amato (Grosse Pointe Woods) as Dolly, Mike Evans (Grosse Pointe) as Foster Wilson, Dante Bufalini (Harper Woods) as Tommy, Bianca Calisi (Grosse Pointe Park) as Jessie, Kyle Bischoff (Macomb Twp.) as Little Jake. Also in the cast are Tom Woodman, Perry Calisi and Rachelle Blachut (Grosse Pointe Park); Frank “Scott” Davis (Ferndale); Christina Amato, Mike Edick and Stephanie Rinderknecht (Grosse Pointe Woods); and Don and Tracy Bischoff (Macomb Twp.)

Crew members of Annie Get Your Gun include producer Christine Kaiser (Grosse Pointe), technical director Art Thompson,  (Grosse Pointe Park), music director John Dickinson (Pleasant Ridge), vocal director Kelly Smith (Eastpointe), Stage manager Marisa J. Di Sante and set dresser Kerry Edick (Grosse Pointe Woods), makeup chair Jackie Pfaff (Chesterfield Twp.), Choreographer Joy Raya, and assistant stage manager Matt Raya (Sterling Heights), sound chair, Ed Thomas (Center Line), properties chair Arlene Marie Schoenherr (St. Clair Shores), special choreographer Donna Miller ( Harper Woods ), set dresser Gretchen Archinal ( Grosse Pointe Park ) and lighting designer Blair Arden (Macomb Twp.)

Grosse Pointe Theatre’s 63rd Season Continues
Following Annie Get Your Gun, Grosse Pointe Theatre will present Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn, January 16, 20-23, 26-29, 2011; Dixie Swim Club By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, March 6, 10-13, 16-19, 2011; and The Scarlet Pimpernel, based on the works by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, May 8, 12-15, 18-21, 2011.  In addition to the adult offerings, Grosse Pointe Theatre’s Youth on Stage will produce a children’s version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, December 11 & 12, 2010.  All shows will be in the Fries Auditorium of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. GPT will also produce The Exonerated, by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, through its Purdon Studio Theatre program, Feb. 18-27, 2011 at the  Edsel & Eleanor Ford House Activity Building , 1100 Lakeshore Road , Grosse Pointe Shores .

For more information about Grosse Pointe Theatre call 313-881-4004 or go to the website at http://www.gpt.org.

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Grosse Pointe Theatre presents Godspell

[originally published at Grosse Pointe Today] Grosse Pointe Theatre opens its 63rd Season with the 1971 rock musical, “Godspell” on September 19 with a 2 p.m. matinee at the Fries Auditorium of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Performances continue September 23-25 at 8 p.m., September 26 at 2 p.m. and September 29-October 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24. Group rates are available. Call 313-881-4004 for tickets or visit the Grosse Pointe Theatre website for more information.

“Godspell” is based primarily on the Gospel according to Matthew. As the cast makes its way through the musical numbers, the audience sees the parables of Jesus Christ come humorously to life. The show also presents the story of Jesus’ last moments, beginning with the Last Supper.

The main story of “Godspell” is portrayed in the show’s subtext, in the way the players interact with their leader, coming together to create a loving community. The subject matter is unabashedly religious, but the focus is more on the lessons learned and the love which Jesus spread rather than on the man himself.

The cast does comic interpretations of the parables and musical numbers that are at times rousing or lyrical. Songs in the show include the popular sing-along song “Day by Day” and others that span a number of musical genres including rock, folk and vaudeville.

The setting for the play is Detroit’s Belle Isle, which was chosen both for its beauty and its urban location.

“Godspell” was conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak as a student project at Carnegie Mellon University. The music and new lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz (“By My Side,” music by Peggy Gordon, lyrics by Jay Hamburger) “Godspell” was originally produced on the New York stage by Edgar Lansbury / Stuart Duncan / Joseph Beruh.

Cast and Crew

The cast on a photo shoot--Belle Isle

The cast and crew for this version of “Godspell” is made up both adults and children, whose ages range from 9 to 55. Don Bischoff of Macomb Township plays Jesus. His son Kyle Bischoff is also a member of the cast. The rest of the ensemble includes Angelina Bufalini of Grosse Pointe, Sarah Dickinson of Pleasant Ridge, Kevin Fitzhenry of Warren, Frank “Scott” Davis and Eric Swanson of Ferndale, Patrick McKeever of Grosse Pointe Farms, Kate Allam of Clinton Township, Stephanie Elaine Samuel of Windsor, Ontario, Jerry and Quinn Nehr of Grosse Pointe Woods and Brittany Michael, Janine Lozon and Peter Di Sante of St. Clair Shores.

“Godspell” is directed by Donna Di Sante of Grosse Pointe Farms, with music and vocal direction by John Dickinson of Pleasant Ridge and vocal assistance from Eric Swanson. Arlene Marie Schoenherr of St. Clair Shores is the choreographer and stage manager. Gwenn Samuel of St. Clair Shores is producer. The set design is by Jesse Villegas of Grosse Pointe with technical direction by Bill Tuthill of Grosse Pointe Woods. Eric and Lisa Leszczynski of Grosse Pointe Woods are doing the lighting. Nancy Bashara of Grosse Pointe Woods and Beverly Dickinson of Pleasant Ridge chair properties and set dressing. Mary Kay Sogge of Harrison Township has created the costumes and Judy Allam of Clinton Township is doing the makeup. Sound is by Ed Thomas of Centerline. The scenic photography slide presentation is by Erin Ann Conway Di Sante of St. Clair Shores.