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QCC theatre kicks off big PPA season

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When the lights went up Sunday afternoon at Queensborough Comminity College, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Band at stage left banged out a full-throttle overture. The chorus girls and boys in western style gear came on strong and away we went into the corny, funny, musical comedy-West of Irving Berlin. Buffalo Bill turned a few ropetricks and then with fanfare introdiced Annie Oakley to the stage center arena.

The tongue-in-cheek fun began when he realized the would not appear until a little later in the show. The story, to nobody’s surprise, is about a backwoods gal, Annie, who doesn’t know, we might assume, “nuttin’ about nuttin’,” except shooting a rifle, and she’s the best at that.

Exuberant Bonny Estes, as Miss Oakley, proves she knows plenty about singing and dancing, giving each Berlin song all the feeling and energy it deserves. She is very attractive to boot. Her co-star, handsome Stephen Valahovic as Frank Baxter, is the champion rifle shooter attraction in Buffalo Bill’s show. Baxter, upon entering the town, issues a prize challenge to anyone who can best his shooting ability. He is known for his male arrogance. But then Annie first sees him, not knowiing he is the one who has made the challenge, falls head over heels in love with him. In response to Annie’s rustic ragged girl appearance and her naiveté, Baxter sings “The Girl That I Marry.”

The song tells of the fineness and the quiet respectful girl he would consider for marriage.

So, this is the story line: her fashionably attractive change, the realization that there can only be one champion rifleshooter in a family; and the saving of Buffalo Bill’s show.

The book by Bella and Samuel Spewack is simple but funny and keeps up with the energy of the music. In between there was what is quite possibly Irving Berlin’s best score - “There's No Business Like Show Business,” “Doing What Comes Naturally,” “They Says That Falling in Love is Wonderful,” “I Got The Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night,” “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” and others.

The band did Berlin’s music up just right. Every cast member delivered. They do not have to bow their heads to Broadway. A special mention has to be given to the Troilia Entertainment production group that did not miss a beat in scenery, costume and overall staging.

This is part of the Professional Performing Arts Series 2002. Upcoming events include: “Salute to Satchmo,” Feb. 17; Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” March 3; and The Red Star Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble of 80 on March 13.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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