NRHEG musical ‘dynamic, energetic, and a bit zany’
THE PLAYERS — Among the cast members for the upcoming NRHEG production of “Annie Get Your Gun” are, on floor, Justin Mortenson and Will Rudau. Row two: Emma Tollefson, Aubrey Johnson and Leah Morstad. Back: Emily Crabtree, Ben Lewer, Maurya Johnson, Solveig Stafford and Lexi Combs. (Star Eagle photo by Deb Bently)
By DEB BENTLY
It’s just before 6 p.m. on a Monday evening. Although play practice technically doesn’t begin for another 10 minutes or so, it’s hard to tell by looking around the room. At one side of the space, music director Jen Fredrickson and accompanist Jacob Bender are running through parts of the score. In another spot, a few cast members are running a spontaneous practice of some choreography. Costumes are being tried on, analyzed for their fit and appearance.
In short, the room is dynamic, energetic, and just a bit zany.
“Just like the play itself,” jokes one cast member.
The play is Annie Get Your Gun, the well-known musical by Rogers and Hammerstein which shares the story of Annie Oakley, a real-life sharpshooter who performed with Buffalo Bill’s Traveling Show in the 1880s. NRHEG’s production of the play will show at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Tickets will be for sale at the door: $4 for students, $6 for adults.
“Bring the kids!” comments cast member Will Rudau, who plays Sitting Bull. “It’s refreshing to go back to this age.” Others chime in. “The characters in this story remind us that times were once very different from the way they are today,” contributes Chris Stenzel, who plays Buffalo Bill. “Children will enjoy the music and the costumes.”
Lexi Combs, who plays Annie’s sister Jessie suggests everyone will enjoy the energy, character, and unpredictability of the story and the way it intertwines with the personalities of our local actors. She says she’s excited about many of the personal touches cast members bring to the story, including having designed much of the choreography themselves.
“It’s a somewhat zany story, it has offbeat characters, there are songs and action and suspense—what more could a person want?” comments Maurya Johnson, who has been cast in the title role. “We’ve been working on it for quite awhile, and it’s exciting to see it coming together.”
Casting for this spring production began prior to Christmas, with nightly practices which began in January. “It’s always exciting to start a new production,” comments acting director Amanda Inouye. “And it’s even more thrilling to see it come together for the full-fledged production.”
Some 15 student actors will be filling the NRHEG stage with the song, dance, romance, and quirky behaviors of the 1880s traveling show. They are Maurya Johnson, Benjamin Lewer, Emily Crabtree, Justin Mortenson, Jill Jongbloedt, Chris Stenzel, Michiah VanSyckle, Will Rudau, Jonah Stafford, Emma Tollefson, Michelle Katzung, Solveig Stafford, Leah Morstad, Alexandra Combs, and Aubrey Johnson.