On April 7 and 8, the shining stars of Union Hill's Fine and Performing Arts Department will be taking center stage with a colorful cast starring Taileen Alvarez as the lively Annie Oakley.
"I love it; she's different from your typical leading lady, and she's very girly even though she shoots a gun," said Alvarez, 18, a senior at the school.
Annie Get Your Gun comes to life under the direction of faculty members Jack O'Conner, Choreographer Jodie Sprague, and Musical Director Tania Alvarez (Taileen's mother).
Joining Taileen Alvarez on stage will be her leading man Christian Diaz, a sophomore, as Frank Butler.
"Annie is really young when she first meets Frank Butler and falls in love with him; it transforms her really fast," said Alvarez.
"When he first meets Annie Oakley, he thinks of her as a little child, but then he falls in love with her, and he [usually] never falls in love with anybody," said Diaz, 15, who is new to the Union Hill stage.
Diaz added, "This is my first year ever in a school play. I just started singing [although] I've been acting, and it was Mrs. Alvarez who inspired me," said Diaz. "I'm speechless. I still can't believe that this is my first year and I got the lead."
Making up the supporting lead characters are Amed Logrono as Sitting Bull, Christian Calderon as Buffalo Bill, Amanda Ortiz as Dolly Tate, and Allison Strong as Winnie Tate.
"Buffalo Bill, there is nothing he wouldn't do for money," said Calderon of his character.
A sophomore at Union Hill, this is Calderon's first lead performance, although he's been involved in many aspects of the school's performing arts programs.
"I thought I was going to get a [smaller] part because there were others who had more experience," said Calderon. "I was extremely overjoyed."
Playing the oldest of the Tate sisters is 18-year-old Amanda Ortiz, who has graced the stage of Union Hill many times and is relishing her first leading role.
"This is my third year [on stage], and for the past two years I have been part of the ensemble," said Ortiz, a senior. "I love that I was able to get one of the leading roles, and I love playing the villain."
Ortiz gets to play the villain to baby sister Winnie played by Allison Strong, although the girls get along behind the stage.
Strong, a sophomore, has performed in various venues from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to her alma mater Woodrow Wilson (Arts Integrated) School and local theater group the Park Players.
"This is very different from anything I've played before and it's historical," said Strong, 15. "Last year I was in One on the Island, which is an ensemble driven show, and it was great for my freshman year. This year I'm happy because I got a singing and dancing role; I get to be a triple threat."
Started with Ethel Merman
The show has been delighting audiences since 1964, when it first opened at the Imperial Theatre starring Ethel Merman, and it quickly became a Broadway darling.
Written by Herbert and Dorothy Fields with lyrics and music by Irving Berlin, Annie Get Your Gun is about the legendary Annie Oakley, a simple country girl and fine sharpshooter.
Oakley travels around with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show with her adoptive father Sitting Bull.
The plot also centers on her growing relationship with a fellow performer Butler from a competing show hosted by Miss Dolly Tate, who is also trying to compete for Butler's affections.
According to imagi-nation.com, "The New York production of Annie Get Your Gun ran for 1,147 performances and was the third-longest running musical of the 1940s. It was the biggest Broadway hit of Merman's career."
Then in 1950 MGM Studios brought the screen adaptation directed by George Sydney, and it starred Betty Hutton and Howard Keel.
Then in 1999, Broadway revived the hit play starring Bernadette Peters, belting out famous show stopping numbers like "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better."
Last curtain call
The Union Hill rendition will be the last performance for some of the cast members, because in June they will be graduating and pursuing there stage dreams in college and different venues.
"I'm a little sad that this is one of my final plays, but I'm loving it and I finally got the lead," said Alvarez. The show is scheduled for Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m., with a student matinee on April 7 at 9 a.m. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.