Originally, Booker VPA acting teacher and director Scott Keys wanted to present “Chicago.” He even persuaded the head of the magnet arts program to approve the racy Vaudeville-style musical. But, when they couldn’t get rights to it, he went with the classic American musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” It runs through May 3, at the Booker VPA Theatre.
The production follows the true story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley’s life and love affair with fellow marksman Frank Butler. They used to travel in Wild West shows, but their story is fictionalized and dramatized in this musical. Many of the Irving Berlin songs are recognizable, such as “There’s No Business like Show Business” and “Anything You Can Do.”
The leading performers include senior Ellie McCaw in the title role, junior Ryan O’Dell as Frank Butler, senior Sam Anthony as Col. Buffalo Bill Cody, senior Gianni Damaia as Charlie Davenport and junior Zoe Verbil as Dolly Tate.
Booker VPA’s acting program includes 80-plus students who auditioned to join the program. They take three class periods to study their crafts, and many also study them outside of school. So the caliber of talent and performance goes beyond what one might expect from a high school musical.
Former students have gone on to study at some of the best theater programs in the country, such as The Juilliard School, Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon.
These photos are a peek at the performance taken during a technical rehearsal.
IF YOU GO
‘Annie Get Your Gun’
When: 7 p.m. April 30; 7 p.m. May 1 and 2; and 2 and 7 p.m. May 3
Where: Booker VPA Theatre, 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota
Cost: Students, $5; seniors, $10; adults, $15
Info: Call 355-2967 or visit vpabooker.com.