Back in January, 2001, Reba McIntire was signed to take over the role of 'Annie Oakley' in the then-running revival of Annie Get Your Gun. She only was signed for six months. By all reports, it was a remarkable performance, considered one of the best-ever, made all the more remarkable from someone who had never even appeared in a play before. (Or, as far as I recall, perhaps never had even acted before.) But as a country music star, as opposed to the traditional Broadway performer she was not only uncommonly perfect in the role, but sang the roof off the theater.
There were plans to do a TV production and memorialize the performance. But then two Broadway musicals adapted for TV were fairly unsuccessful (Bye Bye Birdie and The Music Man), and so network interest shriveled and disappeared, and the production foolishly never went forward. And the acclaimed performance was lost for the ages.
Except -- thanks to YouTube, all that is lost shall be found. There is a full video recording of Reba McIntire's renowned performance in Annie Get Your Gun.
Now, I must say here upfront that I do not like bootleg videos. At worst, I find many borderline reprehensible and all a slap in the face of copyright holders. In some cases, they take money away from the rights-holder. And this is a bootleg recording. Someone taped the performance from the balcony.
But I am not inflexible. (Nor a lawyer...) It's just that sometimes there are things that would otherwise be lost forever, and so -- wrong as it is -- I'm glad that something valuable has been preserved. Also, speaking just personally, I look at a lot of this from a scholastic level -- I write extensively about Broadway, so I find it personally important to be able to know what I'm writing about. Yes, I understand that this is stretching credibility and borderline hypocritical. But I still believe it. When I do watch bootleg videos, I tend to do so under certain self-imposed restrictions. (They're far too long to go into here and basically only of interest to me.)
And so, with that lengthy explanation, I'm going to embed part of the video here. The full performance is broken into about 15 10-minute videos. I haven't watched the whole thing (that relates to one of those self-imposed restrictions...) but I've seen enough to know that the reputation of Reba McIntire's is well-justified.
And so, I'll show you what I mean.
In segment #2, Reba McIntire sings, "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun." It's absolutely, joyously, hilariously wonderful, and that's what I've embedded it below. (But know that that's all I've embedded, not even the full segment. I've edited everything else out and got it down to run the one song only. Again, maybe this is stretching what is proper, and a salve to my conscience, but I think I've done my best to be as protective as reasonable.)
And the "as reasonable" is the operative word here, because I think this performance and particular song is simply too good to be lost to history forever. Some things deserve their place in the sun, even when that place is stretched.
How good is her performance of this song? I played it for my parents a couple years ago and -- well, you must understand that not only were they big traditionalists about such things, but they actually saw Ethel Merman on stage in the original Broadway production. One of the legendary Broadway performances ever. So, when I said to them that, at the very least, this one song was on a par with that, I was met with great skepticism (to the extent of "Are you crazy??") When it was over, though, my dad acknowledged that, well, yes, okay she was quite good (which was a huge acknowledgement for him after having made a pronouncement), and attractive, too. And my mother actually asked to see it again.
In short (well, okay, I'm well-past that at this point...), Reba McIntire just sings the bejeepers out of the song. She nails every single joke. She throws herself into it and chews up the stage with her soaring voice. And -- with all due respect to the legendary Merman -- as my dad noted, you can easily see Frank Butler falling in love with her.
I'm sorry this is bootleg. I'm thrilled it exists. It's just one song I've edited down and am posting, but seeing this one song is enough. The video quality is absolutely terrible -- but after a bit you won't care. You'll just be so glad to be able to be watching it. And know, in the end, that it's not lost to the ages. Not lost, but ...right here, below.
And they still should have made the TV production. This was Reba McIntire. People would have watched. Her fans alone almost would have made it a hit.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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