July 7, 1947: West End debut for ‘Annie Get Your Gun’

Annie Get Your Gun is a musical with lyrics and music by Irving Berlin and a book by Dorothy Fields and her brother Herbert Fields. The story is a fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley (1860–1926), a sharpshooter who starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and her romance with sharpshooter Frank E. Butler (1847–1926).

The show premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on May 16, 1946 and ran for 1,147 performances. It starred Ethel Merman as Annie, Ray Middleton as Frank Butler, Lea Penman as Dolly Tate, Art Bernett as Foster Wilson, Harry Bellaver as Chief Sitting Bull, Kenneth Bowers as Tommy Keeler, Marty May as Charlie Davenport and William O’Neal as Buffalo Bill.

Its West End premiere, on June 7, 1947, was at the London Coliseum where it ran for 1,304 performances. Dolores Gray played Annie with Bill Johnson as Frank.

n 1986, a David Gilmore Chichester Festival Theatre production, with American rock star Suzi Quatro as Annie and Eric Flynn as Frank, opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre. It moved to the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and then to the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End where it played from July 29 to October 4. The cast recorded an album and Quatro’s songs “I Got Lost in His Arms”/”You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” were released as a single.

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