Annie Get Your Gun

Music: Irving Berlin
Lyrics: Irving Berlin

  • Herbert Fields
  • Dorothy Fields

Opened: May 16, 1946
At: Imperial Theatre
Starring: Ethel Merman

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).


Act I[]

When the traveling Buffalo Bill's Wild West show visits Cincinnati, Ohio ("Colonel Buffalo Bill"),  Frank Butler, the show's handsome, womanizing star ("I'm a Bad, Bad, Man"), challenges anyone in town to a shooting match. Foster Wilson, a local hotel owner, doesn't appreciate the Wild West show taking over his hotel, so Frank gives him a side bet of one hundred dollars on the match. Annie Oakley enters and shoots a bird off Dolly Tate's hat, and then explains her simple backwoods ways to Wilson with the help of her siblings ("Doin' What Comes Natur'lly"). When Wilson learns she's a brilliant shot, he enters her in the shooting match against Frank Butler.

While waiting for the match to start, Annie meets Frank Butler and is instantly smitten with him, not knowing he will be her opponent. When she asks Frank if he likes her, Frank explains that the girl he wants will "wear satin... and smell of cologne" ("The Girl That I Marry"). The rough and naive Annie comically laments that "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun". At the shooting match, Annie finds out that Frank is the "big swollen-headed stiff" from the Wild West show. She wins the contest, and Buffalo Bill and Charlie Davenport, the show's manager, invite Annie to join the Wild West Show. Annie agrees because she loves Frank even though she has no idea what "show business" is. Frank, Charlie, and Buffalo Bill explain that "There's No Business Like Show Business".

Over the course of working together, Frank becomes enamored of the plain-spoken, honest, tomboyish Annie and, as they travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on a train, he explains to her what "love" is ("They Say It's Wonderful"). Buffalo Bill and Charlie discover that their rival, Pawnee Bill's Far East Show, will be playing in Saint Paul, Minnesota, while the Wild West show plays in nearby Minneapolis. They ask Annie to do a special shooting stunt on a motorcycle to draw Pawnee Bill's business away. Annie agrees because the trick will surprise Frank. She sings her siblings to sleep with the "Moonshine Lullaby".

As Annie and Frank prepare for the show, Frank plans to propose to Annie after the show and then ruefully admits that "My Defenses Are Down". When Annie performs her trick and becomes a star, Chief Sitting Bull adopts her into the Sioux tribe ("I'm An Indian Too"). Hurt and angry, Frank walks out on Annie and the show, joining the competing Pawnee Bill's show.

Act II[]

Returning to New York from a tour of Europe with the Buffalo Bill show, Annie learns that the show has gone broke. Sitting Bull, Charlie, and Buffalo Bill plot to merge Buffalo Bill's show with Pawnee Bill's as they believe that show is doing well financially. Annie, now well-dressed and more refined and worldly, still longs for Frank ("I Got Lost in His Arms").

At a grand reception for Buffalo Bill's troupe at the Hotel Brevoort, Pawnee Bill, Dolly, and Frank also plot a merger of the two companies, assuming Buffalo Bill's show made a fortune touring Europe. When they all meet, they soon discover both shows are broke. Annie, however, has received sharpshooting medals from all the rulers of Europe worth one hundred thousand dollars, and she decides to sell the medals to finance the merger, rejoicing in the simple things ("I Got the Sun in the Mornin'"). When Frank appears, he and Annie confess their love and decide to marry, although with comically different ideas: Frank wants "some little chapel", while Annie wants "A wedding in a big church with bridesmaids and flower girls/ A lot of ushers in tail coats/ Reporters and photographers" ("An Old-Fashioned Wedding"o). When Annie shows Frank her medals, Frank again has his pride hurt. They call off the merger and the wedding, but challenge each other to one last shooting match to decide who is the best shot.

On the ferry to the Governors Island match site, Dolly attempts to ruin Annie's chances by tampering with her guns. She is caught and stopped by Sitting Bull and Charlie. However, they then decide to follow through with Dolly's plan so that Annie will lose the match, knowing that would soothe Frank's ego allowing the two to reconcile and the merger to take place.

As the match is ready to begin, Annie and Frank's egos come out again with each claiming they are better than the other ("Anything You Can Do"). Sitting Bull convinces Annie to deliberately lose the match to Frank, reminding her that she "can't get a man with a gun." That done, Frank and Annie finally reconcile, deciding to marry and merge the shows.


Dorothy Fields had the idea for a musical about Annie Oakley, to star her friend, Ethel Merman. Producer Mike Todd turned the project down, so Fields approached a new producing team, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. After the success of their first musical collaboration, Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein had decided to become producers of both their own theatrical ventures and those by other authors. They agreed to produce the musical and asked Jerome Kern to compose the music; Fields would write the lyrics, and she and her brother Herbert would write the book. Kern, who had been composing for movie musicals in Hollywood, returned to New York on November 2, 1945, to begin work on the score to Annie Get Your Gun, but three days later, he collapsed on the street due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Kern was hospitalized, and he died on November 11, 1945. The producers and Fields then asked Irving Berlin to write the musical's score; Fields agreed to step down as lyricist, knowing that Berlin preferred to write both music and lyrics to his songs. Berlin initially declined to write the score, worrying that he would be unable to write songs to fit specific scenes in "a situation show". Hammerstein persuaded him to study the script and try writing some songs based on it, and within days, Berlin returned with the songs "Doin' What Comes Naturally", "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun", and "There's No Business Like Show Business". Berlin's songs suited the story and Ethel Merman's abilities, and he readily composed the rest of the score to Annie Get Your Gun. The show's eventual hit song, "There's No Business Like Show Business", was almost left out of the show because Berlin mistakenly got the impression that Richard Rodgers did not like it. In imitation of the structure of Oklahoma! a secondary romance between two of the members of the Wild West Show was added to the musical during its development.

Song List[]

Original 1946 production[]

Act I
  • Overture — Orchestra
  • "Colonel Buffalo Bill" — Charlie Davenport, Dolly Tate, and ensemble
  • "I'm a Bad, Bad Man" — Frank Butler
  • "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" — Annie Oakley and her siblings
  • "The Girl That I Marry" — Frank and Annie
  • "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" — Annie
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" — Frank, Buffalo Bill, Charlie, Annie, and ensemble
  • "They Say It's Wonderful" — Annie and Frank
  • "Moonshine Lullaby" § — Annie and siblings
  • "I'll Share It All With You" — Winnie Tate and Tommy Keeler
  • "Ballyhoo" — Riding Mistress and Show People
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" (Reprise) — Annie
  • "My Defenses Are Down" — Frank and ensemble
  • "Wild Horse Ceremonial Dance" — Wild Horse, Indian Braves and Maidens
  • "I'm an Indian, Too" — Annie and ensemble
  • Adoption Dance — Annie, Wild Horse and Braves
Act II
  • Entr'acte — Orchestra
  • "I Got Lost In His Arms" § — Annie
  • "Who Do You Love, I Hope?" — Winnie and Tommy
  • "I Got the Sun in the Morning" — Annie and ensemble
  • "They Say It's Wonderful" (Reprise) — Annie and Frank
  • "The Girl That I Marry" (Reprise) — Frank
  • "Anything You Can Do" — Annie and Frank
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" (Reprise) — Ensemble
  • §: omitted from the 1950 film version
  • "Let's Go West Again" was written by Berlin for the 1950 film but was not used. However, there are recordings by both Betty Hutton and Judy Garland.
  • "Take It in Your Stride" was a solo for Annie written for the original production. It was replaced by a reprise of "There's No Business Like Show Business" when Merman found the number too difficult. It was recorded by Liz Larsen for the album Lost in Boston.

1999 revival[]

Act I
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" - Frank, Dolly, Winnie and Company
  • "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" — Annie, Kids and Foster Wilson
  • "The Girl That I Marry" — Frank and Annie
  • "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" — Annie
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" (Reprise) — Frank, Buffalo Bill, Charlie and Annie
  • "I'll Share It All With You" — Tommy, Winnie and Company
  • "Moonshine Lullaby" — Annie, Kids, Ensemble Trio
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" (Reprise) — Annie
  • "They Say It's Wonderful" — Annie and Frank
  • "My Defenses Are Down" — Frank and Young Men
  • Finale: "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun (Reprise)" - Annie
Act II
  • Entr'acte: The European Tour — Annie and Company
  • "I Got Lost In His Arms" — Annie
  • "Who Do You Love, I Hope" — Tommy, Winnie and Company
  • "I Got the Sun in the Morning" — Annie and Company
  • "An Old-Fashioned Wedding" — Annie and Frank
  • "The Girl That I Marry" (Reprise) — Frank
  • "Anything You Can Do" — Annie and Frank
  • "They Say It's Wonderful" (Reprise) — Annie, Frank and Company

"An Old-Fashioned Wedding" was written by Berlin for the 1966 revision, sung by Annie and Frank, and was also included in the 1999 revival

Character List[]

Character Original Broadway


Original West End


First U.S. Tour


First Broadway Revival


Second Broadway Revival


First West End Revival


Third Broadway Revival


Second U.S. Tour


Annie Get Your Gun – 2021 Outdoor Revival


Annie Oakley Ethel Merman Dolores Gray Mary Martin Betty Jane Watson Ethel Merman Suzi Quatro Bernadette Peters Marilu Henner Gemma Sutton
Frank Butler Ray Middleton Bill Johnson Earl Covert David Atkinson Bruce Yarnell Eric Flynn Tom Wopat Rex Smith Joel Montague
Dolly Tate Lea Penman Barbara Babington Jean Cleveland Margaret Hamilton Benay Venuta Maureen Scott Valerie Wright Susann Fletcher Emma Crossley
Buffalo Bill William O'Neal Ellis Irving Jack Rutherford James Rennie Rufus Smith Edmund Hockridge Ron Holgate George McDaniel Leon Craig
Chief Sitting Bull Harry Bellaver John Garside Zachary A. Charles Harry Bellaver Harry Bellaver Berwick Kaler Gregory Zaragoza Larry Storch Karl Seth
Tommy Keeler Kenneth Bowers Irving Davies Tommy Wonder Richard France x x Andrew Palermo Eric Sciotto Jordan Cunningham
Charlie Davenport Marty May Hal Bryan Donald Burr Jack Whiting Jerry Orbach Matt Zimmerman Peter Marx Joe Hart Matthew Atkins
Winnie Tate Betty Anne Nyman Wendy Toye Billie Worth Rain Winslow x x Nicole Ruth Snelson Claci Miller Charlotte O'Rourke
Pawnee Bill George Lipton Edmund Dalby Bern Hoffman William LeMassena Jack Dabdoub Michael G. Jones Ronn Carroll Charles Goff Robert Earl