On This Day: Reba McEntire Takes Over as Annie Oakley in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ on Broadway in 2001

by Clayton Edwards

The word superstar doesn’t begin to describe Reba McEntire. She is a country music icon, an actress, and an author. Many country stars have made the transition into acting. Likewise, just about every big-name country singer has an autobiography. Not many stars can say that they are also Broadway stars. In January of 2001, Reba added that accolade to her list of accomplishments. That year, she replaced Bernadette Peters in the role of Annie Oakley in the Irving Berlin classic “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Reba McEntire is no stranger to acting. She made her acting debut in 1990 in “Tremors,” a cult classic science fiction flick about giant killer worms. However, her move to Broadway was unprecedented. She was the first country singer to cross over to big-time stage plays. The country icon’s time as Annie Oakley would be great for not only her career but also for the play. Her name alone brought a whole new audience to Broadway. Many people who never thought about attending a stage production like “Annie Get Yout Gun,” bought tickets just to see Reba perform.

Many country music fans got their first taste of Broadway thanks to Reba McEntire’s turn as Annie Oakley. At the same time, many Broadway fans discovered Reba in the same way. Critics and audiences loved her in the role.

Reba McEntire’s Annie Oakley Gets Rave Reviews

You would expect the country music press and Reba McEntire’s fans to praise her performance in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and they did. At the same time, several New York-based publications gave her performance great reviews. Reba’s website features a few of those reviews.

A critic from “Variety” said, “McEntire’s energy and enthusiasm seem to shed a new glow on the whole production. And of course, the particular qualities of McEntire’s lovely singing bring something fresh and exciting to Irving Berlin’s score.”

Reba won over “The New York Times” with her performance. About her, they wrote, “Without qualification the best performance by an actress in a musical comedy this season. Ms. McEntire doesn’t need a gun to bring Manhattan to its knees.”

Even Broadway.com had some great things to say about Reba McEntire as Annie Oakley. They said, “It’s safe to place McEntire on the list of the finest replacements offered in recent seasons.”

What Made Reba’s Annie Get Your Gun Performance So Special?

Reba McEntire is comfortable on stage and has one hell of a voice. This can be said about just about every woman on Broadway. What set Reba apart, though, is her country roots. Before Annie Oakley was a world-renowned sharpshooter, she was a country girl. No other actress to step into that role can boast the same background as the character.

Reba, on the other hand, is as country as it gets. She grew up on a ranch got her start by singing the national anthem at an Oklahoma rodeo. Her long career in country music, cowgirl roots, and distinctive Oklahoma twang allowed her to step naturally into the role. It took a country girl to bring out the true spirit of Annie Oakley.