- Ron Woods and St. Joseph resident Brad Busse rehearse a scene July 24 from Great Northern Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” The show opens Aug. 9.
- Cast members of Great Northern Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” rehearse July 24 at Rocori High School. From left to right are St. Joseph resident Brad Busse, Cold Spring resident Brenda Brown and Ron Woods of Cold Spring.
- St. Joseph resident Brad Busse plays Charlie Davenport in Great Northern Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.”
- Brad Busse talks with Kristen Loecken July 24 during a scene from the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.” Loecken (left) stars as the main character Annie Oakley.
by TaLeiza Calloway
Brad Busse has always been comfortable portraying someone other than himself. Give him character to play and he is OK with stepping outside his shell and morphing into a new personality.
The St. Joseph resident has been acting since he was a junior in high school and has also dabbled in directing. His love of the arts was ignited by a high school teacher who inspired his students to get involved with music and drama. The 56-year-old has been in more than 30 plays in the last eight years. And he’s still friends with that teacher.
One thing he will make sure to tell you is that his love for theater is not just a hobby.
“I like to think of it as a passion,” Busse said. “A hobby is one thing and a passion is something else. It’s one of those things where you have a job but you have a passion. That’s my passion. It’s my avocation.”
His latest role is playing Charlie Davenport in Great Northern Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun. “ Based on a true story and set near Cincinnati, Ohio, the musical tells the tale of fast-talking feisty sharpshooter Annie Oakley. She is persuaded to join Buffalo Bill’s traveling Wild West Show but falls in love with Frank Butler, the show’s star and her competition. When Annie eclipses Frank as the show’s main attraction, she realizes she’ll have to make some hard choices if she wants to win the man she loves. And as a tomboy, finding love hasn’t been too easy.
Some of the famous songs from the musical include Berlin’s “Anything You Can Do,” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun.”
Busse’s character is what he calls a people pleaser. He is the manager of Buffalo Bill’s show. Theatergoers can count on him to deliver zingers throughout the story.
“He’s got all the funny lines,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s got the best lines in the play. He gets to zing everybody. . . I’ve had a ball.”
Busse never saw the production on stage but did see the movie a few years ago. Once he got into it, he found out just how funny it is. Like Davenport, he too likes to make people laugh.
He admits that as he gets older, the hardest part is memorizing one’s lines. Once that’s done, then actors can really concentrate on their characters. That’s what it’s all about.
“Being the character is the fun part,” he said. “You know your lines and then you can develop your character. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Being able to make people laugh is a great thing.”
Vicki Meyer is the director of the musical. She remembers watching the production as a child with her parents at St. Boniface Church. What she loved then was the music in the story. The same is true today. To direct it years later is a treat for her.
“It’s a good story,” Meyer said. “I love it because it’s American history.”
Meyer has known Busse for about seven years. Both serve on the board of directors for Great Northern Theatre Company. She said he has been great to work with.
“He really has the best lines in the show,” Meyer said. “He’s a big part of our theatre family.”
This is Busse’s ninth show with the Great Northern Theatre Company in Cold Spring. He directed the last two winter shows: “Two by Two, “a story based on Noah and the Ark in 2011 and “My Old Friends” this past winter. He will direct “Guys and Dolls” next summer.
Busse starred at Prof. Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” in 2004. A few years ago he played Uncle Max in the “Sound of Music” and has been in “Deer Camp” for the last five years.
It’s hard for him to choose if he likes acting or directing more. He says there are two levels of enjoyment that come from being on stage as well as shaping the look of a show.
What he has grown to like is sharing his experience with younger actors.
As he talks about his work with the production, one can’t miss the excitement in his voice.
“Musical theater has been keeping me going,” he said. “Theater was just kind of a love that was on the back burner and suddenly it came to the forefront.”