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'Annie Get Your Gun' is about to go off Niagara Regional Theater Guild prepares for its 2005-06 season

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Alex T. Bock, 12, loves sharing the spotlight with his father, Jason.

His father is an actor and, when Alex was younger, he would attend rehearsals with his dad. Alex has been performing at his father's side ever since.

The duo, joined by Alex's stepmother, Teresa, will perform together for the first time this fall in the musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

Alex will sing and dance. His father will play the role of Charlie Davenport, the stage manager of the Wild West show. His stepmother will play Dolly Tate, who falls for Charlie.

The show kicks off the 2005-06 season for the Niagara Regional Theatre Guild, and will run from Sept. 23 through Oct. 8 at the Historic Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St.

The father and son team, from Williamsville, also performed together in the musical "Ragtime" when they were living in Ohio. Alex played the role of Edgar; his father was Tateh, the Russian immigrant who became his stepfather in the show.

"So, I had to like hold his hand in the end. It was really gross," Alex said.

"Annie Get Your Gun" tells the story of a traveling show that starts in Ohio and ends in New York City in the 1940s. The characters are involved in producing and performing in Colonel Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

The lead female character, Annie Oakley, is a tomboyish markswoman from the "backwoods" of Ohio. She joins the Wild West show and beats Frank Butler, the show's star, in a shooting match.

Despite their fierce competitiveness, the two fall in love and manage to put their egos aside for each other.

"I think it's a really good show," Alex said. "It has really good music."

Even though Alex is young, he has always been a fan of show tunes. "Most kids are like, 'Eww, show tunes,' " he said. The musical features familiar songs such as "There's No Business Like Show Business," and "The Girl That I Marry."

Songs like "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" are representative of the competitive relationship between the leading characters. Chris S. Turton, who's performing the role of Frank, said that Frank is a nice guy, but is arrogant, egotistical and selfish.

"He's very self-assured, and he's the best in the West. He loses to (Annie) in a shooting match and it kind of gets under his skin," said Turton, who's from Amherst and has been acting locally in performances at the Lancaster Opera House.

The most challenging part of playing the role of Frank is getting a country "twang" down to a science.

"I'm trying to adjust my level of twang," Turton said. "Being from Buffalo I've got of kind of eliminate my Buffalo accent."

Lanaya Burnette, who moved to Buffalo from Virginia, can identify with her character, Annie. She, too, was a tomboy and had to learn to find a balance between becoming a woman and maintaining her sense of self. A scar on her right elbow serves as a reminder of that transition. She got it when she fell while skateboarding as a child.

"It was very natural going through the awkward period. I'm still me, but I had to polish up if I wanted to be an actress," she said. "I wanted to do this show for so long."

She saw the show for the first time when she was 12, on Broadway.

"I was totally in love with Bernadette Peters," she said of the actress who had played the role of Annie Oakley.

In addition to "Annie Get Your Gun," the theater guild's fall season features "The Miracle Worker;" the William Gibson drama, "On the Town," a musical about three sailors in New York City; and "Camelot," a musical by Lerner & Loewe.

The guild was established in 1923 and produces three musicals and one drama every year.

"Annie Get Your Gun" is a dated show, said Fran Newton, artistic director for the guild.

The guild will perform the Peter Stone version of the musical, which offers more contemporary music and a slightly more modern image of today's woman.

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