There’s no business like show business when performing with friends and family for Grand Island Little Theatre’s “Annie Get Your Gun” summer production.

Sarah Chandler, music director, said this production has been a great experience for the young actors because several parents volunteered to perform alongside their kids and share the excitement of a community production.

“What a great experience for them to have their whole family there with them because they will remember that forever,” Chandler said.

Almost reaching its 60th anniversary, GILT continues the tradition of family theater with its third release of “Annie Get Your Gun” for the community. “Annie Get Your Gun” will be showing June 12-15 at 7:30 p.m. and June 16 at 2 p.m. at College Park Auditorium. GILT first showed “Annie Get Your Gun” in August 1980 and again in June 2000. With its third showing for Grand Island, audience members can expect to be transported into the past with well-known musical numbers such as “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning” and “There’s No Business like Show Business.”

According to GILT’s press release, “Annie Get Your Gun” is a fictionalized story of Annie Oakley, a sharpshooter who starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and her romance with sharpshooter Frank Butler. The 1946 Broadway production was a hit and had long runs in New York and London.

This GILT production has a cast of about 25 people with two music directors and one drama director. Drama director Brian Mohr and Chandler said its sense of community is strong with the families in the production and teamwork to fulfill all of the roles on and off stage. Each cast member is responsible of several acting roles, in addition to staging and building roles. Mohr said the cast for this production is a combination of veteran GILT members and some new members.

“We have a really dedicated and talented group from our leads of people like Annie Oakley and Frank Butler and Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull down to our ensemble,” Mohr said. “They’ve all really have a lot of talents.”

Brigit Baglien, who plays Annie Oakley, said this is her second and last GILT show but it has been a fun experience and the GILT community is like a family to her. She said it’s a great environment to come into because the people involved really care and put a lot of work into the productions.

“There’s a lot of subtle humor and not-so-subtle humor in there that makes the show more lively,” Baglien said. “The songs are really catchy, lots of really good earworms. You’ll go home singing them for sure.”

Mohr said the script reading committee decided last year that “Annie Get Your Gun” would be a good musical for this summer season because of its prominence and old-school style. Chandler said being a music director has been a learning experience because of all the parts included in a musical.

“People think of ‘oh you have to pick out your actors,’ but you also have to worry about hair, makeup, props and scenery,” Chandler said. “You have to have people to help with all of those. It’s been interesting pulling our networks to see what we can find.”

Kelsey Helget, who plays Dolly Tate, said this production is her third show at GILT and she loves working with the theater. Helget is on GILT’s board of directors and also does shows in a Hastings theater.

“It’s just fun being a part of the community and working together. It’s a family affair, really,” Helget said. “It really rounds out the family ties theme for this year’s Grand Island Little Theatre.”

Mohr and Chandler said the cast rehearses four nights a week and they have been practicing since April 15. Despite having just moved their rehearsals to the auditorium June 1 due to contracting agreements with West College Park, Mohr said they started rehearsals immediately.

“Typically, especially with a musical, you want about two months of rehearsal because you have the acting, the choreography and the singing,” Mohr said.

Mohr said he thinks there is a lot of community excitement for this production and there are even people from other states traveling to watch the show.

“Our office administrator said she got a call from two brothers who were in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ probably about 30 years ago and they don’t even live close to Grand Island or Nebraska,” Mohr said. “They are coming with their wives and making a whole weekend out of being in Grand Island to watch ‘Annie Get Your Gun.’”

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Natalie Saenz is The Independent's summer intern for 2019. She welcomes news tips and information 24/7!

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