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Ingolf-Christopher Facius, a German exchange student at Bowsher High School, is tall, with a deep voice and performing experience, but he never expected these attributes would help him land the male lead in the school’s upcoming production of Annie Get Your Gun.
The 17-year-old from Saxony said the best he hoped for was a place in the chorus. Now he finds himself starring opposite Tori Treadaway, who plays Annie Oakley in the classic Irving Berlin musical comedy.
“I never thought I would get the lead,” Ingolf-Christopher said. “I just thought I would be in the ensemble and dancing. It sure is the happiest year of my life.”
Ingolf-Christopher plays Frank Butler, who, like Annie Oakley, was a real-life marksman. However, she beat him in a shooting-match bet outside a hotel in Cincinnati.
They toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and shared more than an interest in sharpshooting. The two fell in love and married in 1876, remaining together until her death in 1925. The show is a fictionalized telling of their story and gave us such American musical standards as There’s No Business Like Show Business and They Say It’s Wonderful.
Ingolf-Christopher said he had never heard of Annie Oakley before he was cast. Tori said she knew who Annie was and came to appreciate her as more than the petite, expert shot that she was.
Annie, in her own way, was a prototypical feminist, strong and self-reliant, she said.
Karin Giffin, Bowsher’s choir director and the show’s music director, said Ingolf-Christopher’s height and baritone voice made him right for the role of Frank Butler. She said she was confident he had the discipline and sense of commitment a theatrical production requires of its cast and crew. At 6 foot, 2 inches, Ingolf-Christopher is more than a foot taller than Tori.
Annie Get Your Gun opened on Broadway in 1946 and ran for 1,147 performances. In 1950, it became a successful movie. It has been revived several times on Broadway and elsewhere. Ethel Merman played Annie in the original production; in the 1999 revival Bernadette Peters and Reba McEntire filled the role.
Producer Scott McGorty said the show will cost upward of $10,000 to stage, and no taxpayer money is involved.
“We try to make enough to cover our costs and set aside some for future shows,” he said.
The show will run in the Bowsher auditorium March 28, 29, and 30. Curtain time will be 7 p.m. except for the 2 p.m. matinee March 30. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased at the door, by calling 419-671-2077, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.