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re: The absurdity of Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley.
Last Edit: keikekaze 03:15 pm EDT 09/25/21
Posted by: keikekaze 03:10 pm EDT 09/25/21
In reply to: The absurdity of Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley. - portenopete 10:36 am EDT 09/25/21

I am mystified how the ludicrousness of the casting did not affect the fortunes of the show. I wouldn't argue- as some have- that "she couldn't act", but I have never seen a shred of evidence that she had the ability to assume a totally different energy and persona, in this case a backwoods girl in her late teens who has never been out of the Ozarks.

It's quite simple, really. Nobody in 1946 went to see a show about "a backwoods girl in her late teens who has never been out of the Ozarks." They went to see the then-38-year-old Merman at the peak of her career. And the last thing they wanted was to see Merman "assume a totally different energy and persona." They wanted to see Merman "be Merman." And that's exactly what they got. (Rodgers and Hammerstein were really not stupid producers. Ethan Mordden has identified them, probably correctly, as "the smartest casting directors who ever lived." And in any event the idea for Merman as Oakley originated with Dorothy Fields, who was also not stupid.) Musicals were star vehicles in those days, not sociological or ethnographic documentaries. I haven't bothered to look at the clip from the much later revival, but it's irrelevant anyway to the success of the show in 1946.

P.S. Not that it matters, but the real Annie Oakley was from Ohio.
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Previous: re: Ethel is in Heaven smiling. - keikekaze 02:52 pm EDT 09/26/21
Next: re: The absurdity of Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley. - JohnDunlop 04:16 pm EDT 09/25/21
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