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Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater

The director pulls laughs out of places you didn't know they could be.

Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater I've mentioned before that I don't generally care for musicals. Never have. I did fall in love with West Side Story as a kid, but when other movies like Oklahoma!, Carousel, Paint Your Wagon, and yes, even Annie Get Your Gun came on tv, I was outta there. This is how it has been for most of my life (although I did get to see Wicked on Broadway, and wowzer!)

But something weird is happening to me. Every time I see one of Desert Theatrical's productions, I enjoy the hell out of myself. And I think I figured out why.

As it turns out, I don't enjoy stage musicals unless I am in the audience and it is a live, professional production. So that leaves out movies, tv and many regional productions. With its pro-production values, terrific casting, and joyous delivery, there is no denying that Desert Theatricals has found my sweet spot.

And so it went with their production of Annie Get Your Gun on March 18, 2022 at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater (in conjunction with the City of Rancho Mirage). I am never disappointed by Joshua Carr's musical direction; the vocal arrangements and the band (in this case: Steven Smith, Bob Marino, Bob O'Donnell, Gary Tole, Alan Yankee, John Reilly, Cindy Brogan, and Robert Scarano) are always kick-ass.

Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater Some of the best numbers of the evening come from There's No Business Like Show Business; They Say It's Wonderful; An Old Fashioned Wedding; Who Do You Love, I Hope; The Girl That I Marry; and Anything You Can Do. That's a lot of best numbers, but trust me, they're all damn good.

Ray Limon's direction and choreography gets two enthusiastic thumbs-up as well. One of my favorite things that Limon does is when he has the cast react in unison to what is happening on stage. He pulls laughs out of places you didn't know they could be, and the dance numbers - it's hard to believe that our little valley has enough talent to pull off those big, big numbers. But Limon shows us that we absolutely do. This show has the best choreography and possibly the trickiest, I've seen in the valley so far.

It doesn't hurt that we have a crazy good breeding ground for the next stars of stage and screen. Many of the younger actors and actresses were part of Musical Theater University (MTU), Desert Theatrical's own Youth Theater Training Workshops, and the many classes offered at CVRep.

I noticed Unnasch in the chorus of Mamma Mia, and even though I was fangirling over Schmelling at the time, I saw Unnasch as someone to watch. I was hoping that her joyful singing and dancing chorus work would lead to her doing, at the very least, a supporting role so I could see more of her.

I love it when the universe delivers, and this time it delivered BIG.

Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater I was delighted to see Unnasch as Annie. Her acting was wonderfully over-the-top (as Annie is), and her voice - holy cow, this girl can sing! She pulls off a couple of great vocal tricks at the end of the play that are very impressive, but what I like the most about her voice are the notes somewhere between her mid-to-upper register. I just wanted to crawl into those notes, curl up, and stay for a nice long while.

I have seen Tod Macofsky perform at PS Underground, and his voice is rich and melodic. Macofsky's Frank is well acted, perfectly sung, and he and Unnasch have great chemistry on stage.

Before I get to a few more shout outs, let me acknowledge terrific performances by Don Savage (Buffalo Bill Cody), Jeffrey Scott Adair (Charlie Davenport), Larry Dyekman (Pawnee Bill), Don H. Harmon (Foster Wilson), Kruz Kudlac (Annie's sister Nellie), and Jackson Ross (Sitting Bull).

More kudos to the ensemble: Billy Franco, Xavier Brown, Peter Zappia, Paul Zappia, Joaquin Nagai, Olga Morales, Joan Vento-Hall, Joanne Mulrooney Moser, Alessandra DiPierro, and Rita Wagner. The ensemble supported the leads and each other beautifully; everyone was clearly having the time of their life.

Sound Design by David Hobday; sound engineering by Chris Reba; Joel Howden's light design; Kathryn Scott's wig design, and stage manager Lee Stone round out the production's backstage magic.

Now for a few special mentions:

Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater I saw Matthew Tucker in Mamma Mia, and while he did a fine job as Sky, he is featured more in his role as Tommy, the love-struck young man of 'questionable' background. Vocals were spot on, but it was in this production that I could see Tucker's talent for movement. Nice job

Ava Sarnowski (also in Mamma Mia) as Tommy's love, Winnie Tate, was a huge surprise for me. Once again, she did not have a lot to do in Mamma Mia, but Annie allowed her to shine as an actress, vocalist, and dancer. She's a very talented young lady with a great voice, and excellent dance chops. And she's still in high school.

Dolly Tate is a fun foil in the show, and Georgina Medina's performance reminded me of one of my favorite character actors, Annie Potts. Medina had a few moments that brought down the house. Sometimes it's the little things, you know? Delightful portrayal.

Review: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Desert Theatricals At Rancho Mirage Amphitheater Speaking of little things, Little Jake doesn't have a lot to do, but what young Sam Rekuc does do is fun. He pulls off a small bit of physical comedy. Twice. And he did it very well. Clearly the youngest member of the cast, if he keeps it up he's going to have a future in theater.

That brings us to Charlotte Upp as Annie's little sister, Jessie. Upp has a solo moment, and when she opens her mouth and that big beautiful voice comes out, everyone checked their programs because Upp had to be much older than she looks, right? But no. She's thirteen, and she's in eighth grade. Incredible. She's another one to watch.

So, yeah. This was a great night under the stars watching a top-notch production of a well-worn, but very fun musical.

Desert Theatricals

ABOUT

Desert Theatricals LLC was founded in 1994 and provided 7 Seasons at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in San Diego County, 13 seasons of Tustin's Broadway in the Park and 2 years of Tustin Light Opera. Since relocating to the desert, we have partnered with the City of Rancho Mirage at the beautiful Rancho Mirage Amphitheater. Recent shows include Anything Goes, The Pirates of Penzance, A Big Band Christmas, Seussical, Jr. It's A Wonderful Life - the Radio Play, Sinatra Forever, the Dinner Cabaret Series with names such as Valerie Perri, David Burnham, Jonathan Karrant, Scott Dreier and more. With over 400 Broadway style professional musicals and events between them, the team of Ray Limon and Joshua Carr have been producing quality, affordable theatre in Southern California for 27 years



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