May 21 2014 02:49 PM

San Diego Musical Theater production tops our coverage of local plays

Steve Blanchard and Beth Malone
Steve Blanchard and Beth Malone
Photo by Ken Jacques

It's not too late to catch San Diego Musical Theatre's fine, likable production of the beloved Annie Get Your Gun. The show runs through Sunday, May 25, at the North Park Theatre.

As this effort directed by John Todd, with music direction by SDMT's Don Le Master, reiterates, the play is beloved for a reason. Yes, it's fluff, but it's also pure Irving Berlin, who wrote some of his most enduring tunes for Annie Get Your Gun. Roll call, please: "There's No Business Like Show Business," "They Say It's Wonderful," "Anything You Can Do," "The Girl That I Marry," "I Got the Sun in the Morning." Even Annie Oakley's cornpone "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" is hard to resist.

Of course, it takes more than Berlin's songs, memorable as they are, to propel a show from start to finish, especially one that's been done a jillion times and is familiar to just about anybody who ever set foot in a theater. You've got to have the right Annie, for starters. This production does. Beth Malone is a natural comedian, animated of expression and athletic of movement.

She's paired with Steve Blanchard, whom you may have seen doing stellar work as the Grinch at The Old Globe the last couple of holiday seasons. Compared with that cartoonish duty, he's practically playing the straight man to Malone in this show. But he gets to flaunt his comic chops well enough, notably in the "Anything You Can Do" duet near the end of the evening.

A character actor's dream, Annie Get Your Gun also lets John Polhamus have a ball as impresario Buffalo Bill, and Debbie David cracks wise as the pretty but petty Dolly Tate. The less said about the un-P.C. character of Sitting Bull (and that's no reflection on actor Sean Tamburrino), the better.

The story, by the way, of Annie Oakley becoming the star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is predictable but entertaining. Naturally, Annie and the previously unchallenged "champeen" shooter on Earth, Frank Butler (Blanchard), fall in love, split on account of a misunderstanding and then reunite. Whoops, gave it away.

But is there anyone out there who's never seen Annie Get Your Gun? Well, if you haven't, you've got a few more days to join the Wild West Show. Get a move on. It runs through May 25 at the North Park Theatre. $26-$56.

—David L. Coddon

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All the Rooms of the House: A site-specific musical performance about three siblings who return to their family home, which is no longer there. Presented by The Trip, it runs May 22 through 25 at Barracks 2 in Point Loma's Liberty Station.

Bell, Book and Candle: A reading of the play about a (mid-century) modern witch living in New York City, part of the inspiration for the 1960s sitcom Bewitched. Presented by San Diego Writers, Ink, it happens May 25 at The Ink Spot in Point Loma's Liberty Station.

The Book of Mormon: In the acclaimed musical by the creators of South Park, two Mormon missionaries are sent to Uganda to convert the locals, who are not the slightest bit interested in being converted. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs May 27 through June 8 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown.

There's No Place Like Home: A world-premiere musical about a young disabled woman who has to learn to cope with homelessness. Presented by Circle Circle dot dot, it opens May 23 at Ocean Beach Playhouse.

Twelfth Night: In Shakespeare's romantic comedy, much love is professed and identities are mistaken after a shipwreck on the Adriatic coast. Opens May 27 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado.

Now playing

The Wizard of Oz: The classic story is brought to life by Arms Wide Open, a nonprofit group that gives folks with special needs opportunities to be involved in the arts. Through May 21 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. 

Annie Get Your Gun: Sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler romance each other amid an attempted merger between Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East shows. Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through May 25 at the North Park Theatre.

Old Jews Telling Jokes: A comedy revue featuring five actors paying homage to classic jokes, inspired by a website of the same name. Through May 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story: A musical based on the true 1924 story of two young men who murdered a young boy for the thrill of it. Through May 25 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.

Lost in Yonkers: It's the 1940s, and a man causes upheaval in his extended family when he decides he needs to make money as a traveling salesman. Presented by Oceanside Theatre Company, it runs through June 1 at Brooks Theatre.

9 to 5: the Musical: An adaptation of the 1980 film, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, about three women who scheme to get even with their boorish boss. Through June 7 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

The Clean House: The story of a woman, her maid who doesn't like cleaning houses and her husband who falls in love with another woman who's dying of cancer. Through June 8 at PowPAC in Poway.

Happy Days: Sledgehammer theater company returns from six years in hibernation to stage Samuel Beckett's play with two characters, one who spends eternity partially buried in dirt and one who lives in a cave to escape unforgiving heat. Through June 8 at the 10th Avenue Arts Center in East Village.

Mud Blue Sky: A teenage pot dealer on his way home from the prom ends up in a Chicago hotel room with three veteran flight attendants in this funny drama about making ends meet. Through June 8 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando.

Chasing the Song: A young, female songwriter hits the male-dominated American pop-music scene in the early 1960s just as the British Invasion is starting to change everything. Through June 15 at La Jolla Playhouse.

The MotherfHHker with the Hat: A former drug dealer fresh out of prison is back with his addict girlfriend and desperate to know whom the man's hat in her apartment belongs to. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through June 22 at Old Town Theatre.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: A successful actress returns home to Pennsylvania, where her siblings have spent much of their adult lives caring for their now-deceased parents, and she's brought her dumb, much younger boyfriend with her. Through June 22 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


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See all events on Thursday, May 5