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Sneak Peak...Annie Get Your Gun

I am always amazed when I enter New York City from its underground labyrinth of trains. This time I took the railroad from Long Island and arrived at Penn Station and 34th Street. Immediately, one is assaulted with a noise level when hitting the street that is almost indescribable. Sirens from ambulances, sirens from fire trucks, honking of horns from taxi-cabs, the din of the city -- very loud and chaotic. And there walks the New Yorker totally oblivious to it all.

Walking up 7th Avenue toward Times Square I notice the fabric of the city. Everyone is focused, as if on a mission to get where they are going. Street lights are totally ignored, gridlock at every corner; cops yawning away on every other block waiting for crime. You walk closer to the square and the smells of the city hit you. The Greek restaurant with its souvlaki, the corner vendor with his roasted chestnuts, the Chinese take-out place smelling of a thousand things; then there's Ben's on 38th Street ... all along 7th Avenue with a million local citizens scampering about. It's New York, it's Fashion Avenue; it's crazy.

A funny thing happens at 40th Street though. Gone are the crowds. You are alone on a single block and you are about to approach 42nd Street where everything changes. Immediately, the crowds appear again, huge crowds, but this time it's not New Yorkers, it's theater-goers from all corners of the globe. Statistically, 90% of them are non-New Yorkers. They are here for one reason. Broadway!

The boards at the TKTS booth looked interesting. Fosse wasn't up and that was my first choice. However Annie Get Your Gun was so I grabbed that. Row X...how awful!

After a nice lunch at Barrymores (great cheeseburgers) I headed over to the Marquis Theatre. I notice a huge banner hanging in front ... "Also Starring Tom Wopat." 'Okay, Tom, you have a good agent', I thought.

Annie Get Your Gun starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat was only in the second preview so you're not going to get a review here but just a sneak preview.

Word on the street is great among theater-goers. Many in the biz went to the invited 'dress' on Tuesday afternoon so the word is out that Annie is a must. And it is a must, but is it good theater? Well, yes and no, but it's getting there. The show doesn't open until March 4th so they have plenty of time to work out the wrinkles and get it there.

Oh, I know. You want to hear about Bernadette Peters, right? In time.

If you read the Washington D.C. reviews you already know that the local reviewers tore this show to shreds, so much so that I heard the Weisslers (producers) wanted to send it out on the road rather than bring it to Broadway. Thar's money on the road!

One thing I also heard is that every available choreographer not working was flown down to D.C. to fix the dancing. Now, you know you hear this stuff and you wonder how much is true, right? Well, I don't know if they flew anyone down, but one thing I do know is that the choreography in Annie Get Your Gun is aimless and certainly not on target. It's credited to Graciela Daniele and Jeff Calhoun.

The problem with the choreography is that it doesn't mesh with the time frame. It's either too modern, or too hokey and whether either one or the other, it's amateurish. However, that said, they still have a month to fix it, and even if they don't, they still have a pretty good show on their hands.

I didn't care much for the costumes, however the sets are quite nice, once again proving that Tony Walton is one of the best around when it comes to set design.

The surprise, to me, was Tom "The Dukes of Hazard" Wopat. Nice acting, very nice voice, great stage presence and a joy to watch. Oh, we ended up in first row on the aisle (don't ask) so we saw everything pretty close up. Tom's a pretty amiable guy too. After the show he signed autographs outside the stage door for some fans and then got lost in the crowds on his bicycle. I observed this while standing in a corner while smoking a cigarette. Another person, dressed very fashionably, also observed, but I didn't say anything to her. I mean, no one ever introduced me to Fran Weissler.

Okay, Bernadette Peters? Right? No. Later.

What can you possibly say about an Irving Berlin musical? It's surely a trip down memory lane and what a lovely trip it is. Those wonderful tunes being heard in a Broadway theater is worth the price of admission alone. Yes, the book, revised by Peter Stone, is still corny but that's the way it is and was, so get over it before you get to the theater. I mean they can polish the book all they want but the bottom line will always be corn.

Still, it's a book musical that I think you will love. Give them a month and I'm sure the professionals on the Great White Way will fix the problems and provide you with a great evening of theater.

Oh. Bernadette Peters? Well, she's, y'know ... okay. She simply blows the roof off the theater during each number leaving the audience breathless, but I'm sure she'll get better as they approach the opening date of March 4th .... if there is a theater left.

(On a second visit to Annie Get Your Gun, I noticed a snip here and a tuck there making the show move along. Also from the front mezzanine I was able to see the dancing from a better viewpoint and it's not as bad as my initial impression and some of it is quite good. As I said, they have a month before opening and I believe Broadway will have a genuine hit on its hands.)

Check out our newly revamped Broadway Review section for our thoughts on You're A Good Man Charlie Brown which opens tonight.

See you Thursday!

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