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"There's no business like show business, like no business I know."

"Folks are dumb where I come from,
They ain't had any learning.
Still they're happy as can be
Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally)."
Annie Oakley, in "Doin' What Comes Naturally"
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A 1946 musical developed by Irving Berlin and siblings Herbert and Dorothy Fields, under the supervision of producers Rodgers and Hammerstein. Ethel Merman originated the title role, and sang many a classic standard, including "There's No Business Like Show Business." A film version, with Betty Hutton in the lead, was released in 1950. The musical has been revived several times since on Broadway, most recently starring Bernadette Peters, Reba McEntire, and Susan Lucci (All My Children).

It follows the tale of one Annie Oakley: sharpshooter, and the man she'll one day marry, Frank Butler: sharpshooter. They meet when he's the star of Buffalo Bill's Circus, but it's rivalry, not love, at first sight. It's going to be hard, but eventually, they do finally get together in the end.


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This show features examples of:

  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: The Trope Namer. Annie and Frank argue over who is the better shot, better singer, best knitter etc.
  • Argument of Contradictions: "Anything You Can Do" is basically this trope in musical form. Every time Annie says she can do something better than Frank, or vice-versa, the next lines are "No you can't!" "Yes I can! "No you can't!" "Yes I can!"
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Annie and Frank's competitive egos repeatedly get in the way of their romance until the end.
  • Beta Couple: Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate, two fellow performers in Buffalo Bill's show. The film version and the revised 1966 stage script cut them out, but the 1999 revival restored them.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dolly Tate. She is constantly mocked by everyone, especially Charlie, but Annie and Frank get in on it too. Justified in that she is a mean-spirited, bigoted snob who hates everyone regardless.
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  • Counterpoint Duet: "An Old-Fashioned Wedding." Frank sings about the simple wedding he wants, while Annie imagines the most lavish wedding possible in counterpoint.
  • "I Am" Song: In "Doin' What Comes Naturally," Annie sings about how she and her family members have no education, but know how to get by all the same.
  • Incredibly Long Note: "Anything You Can Do" - specifically, "Any note you can hold, I can hold longer." She can.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Frank when he falls for Annie. The song "My Defenses Are Down" is all about this.
  • List Song: "I'm An Indian, Too" lists many American Indian names and well-known tribes.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: The Beta Couple Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate go through this. Winnie's mother (or older sister) Dolly opposes their relationship because Tommy is half Native American and has their secret marriage annulled. But they reunite and remarry once Winnie turns eighteen and can legally marry without Dolly's consent.
  • Men Act, Women Are: Inverted for most of the musical, where Anne is doing all the acting and Frank is not. The reason she gets the guy is because she holds back on her competition (courtesy of a rigged gun).
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: "Who Do You Love I Hope?"
    I heard your question
    The answer you know
    Love is my middle name
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Why Annie sings "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun."
  • Promotion to Parent:
    • Annie takes care of her four younger siblings.
    • In the 1999 revival script, Dolly Tate serves as her teenage sister Winnie's guardian. (In the original 1946 version, Winnie was her daughter, but the revised script changes their relationship.)
  • Right in Front of Me: When Annie meets Frank, she not only doesn't know who he is, but she calls him a "big swollen-headed stiff."
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Annie puts on a formal gown for the reception before the merger and Frank takes it as a sign that she's becoming a lady. Even before that, Annie trades her dirty hillbilly clothes for clean, respectable outfits and starts bathing regularly after she joins Buffalo Bill's show, and Frank comments on how much better she looks and smells.

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