Liberty High School alumna targets title role in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’

November 1, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Liberty High School alumna Vicki Noon stars in the title role of 'Annie Get Your Gun' at Village Theatre. By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The title star in “Annie Get Your Gun” — sharpshooter Annie Oakley, a folk heroine — is a coveted role for actresses. So, too, is Elphaba, the green-tinted protagonist in “Wicked” and a witch infamous for menacing Oz.

Vicki Noon claims both roles — Elphaba in “Wicked” as the mega-musical embarked on a national tour and Oakley in a soon-to-open production at Village Theatre.

The actress, a Liberty High School graduate, said the ties between the characters, outcast Elphaba and country bumpkin Oakley, extend beyond the person in the role.

“Both of them have kind of been on their own,” she said. “Both of them have kind of had to fend for themselves and pull up their bootstraps and get their life. They’re both very independent people.”

“Annie Get Your Gun” opens at Village Theatre on Nov. 9 and runs through the holiday season.

“For me, it’s one of those ultimate female empowerment stories,” said Kristin Culp, a co-choreographer on the show. “The song at the end, ‘Anything You Can Do,’ it’s a story about if you put your mind to doing anything, you can really become a star or the best, no matter who you are or what your upbringing is.”

The proto-feminist Oakley is a challenge for actresses in the role.

“You have to do the things that scare you, especially when you’re an actress,” Noon said before donning a red-and-turquoise getup for a photo shoot. “You have to put yourself in a situation that might scare you or make you feel a little uncomfortable. That’s the only way that you grow.”

The lead characters in “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Wicked” transform into adults as the musicals unfold — a lesson not lost on Noon.

“The role of Elphaba is everything that someone who loves to sing and perform aspires to,” she said. “For women in theater, it’s the role.”

Still, the character can exact a toll on actresses due to the constant demands.

“Elphaba is a beast of a role and after doing it for three years, I think I needed a little break,” Noon said. “I wanted to rest my voice, and see my family and friends.”

Noon studied the “Annie Get Your Gun” film adaptation released in 1950 and YouTube clips from recent stage productions.

“When I’m reading the script, every line out of Annie’s mouth is funny,” she said. “I just hope I do her justice.”

The musical meant the lead actress needed to trade the pop sensibilities in “Wicked” for the country twang required to portray Oakley.

If you go

‘Annie Get Your Gun’

  • Village Theatre — Francis J. Gaudette Theatre
  • 303 Front St. N.
  • Nov. 9 to Dec. 31
  • Show times vary
  • $22 to $62
  • 392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org

Producers modeled the Village Theatre musical on a much-lauded 1999 Broadway revival. Bernadette Peters and Reba McEntire starred in the title role.

In the local staging, the Oakley role is more McEntire and less Peters. (The country music superstar stepped in after Peters left the show.)

“Annie Oakley, the character in this show, she really is a caricature,” Noon said. “The accent is over the top. To step into this fun, outlandish person, she’s a hoot.”

Culp said the local production adds the athletic and graceful dances missing from the classic film. (The film relied more on horseback riding rather than dancing.)

“Annie really goes through a transformation, because at the top of the show, she’s a fantastic shooter, but she comes from a humble upbringing and doesn’t know how to read,” she said. “By the end of the show, she’s really established herself as a world champion.”

Noon, 26, returned to Issaquah for the “Annie Get Your Gun” role. The actress, a former forward on the girls soccer team at Liberty High School, balanced commitments at Village Theatre and on the soccer field as a teenager.

Longtime Village Theatre Artistic Director Steve Tomkins, a mentor and a friend, asked Noon to consider the Oakley role after she settled in the Renton Highlands area after the “Wicked” commitment ended.

“A lot of my friends, when I told them I was thinking about doing this, were like, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s such a great show for you,’ and I had no idea,” she said.

Noon gradated from Liberty High School in 2003. San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is a classmate and friend.

“I would come to rehearsals in my soccer stuff,” she said. “I’d show up in my team uniform — sweaty with my hair in a ponytail. I’d be taking my shin guards off right at the top of rehearsal.”

The chance to star as Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” is a homecoming for the actress.

“I always say that I grew up at Village Theatre,” Noon said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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