Two seniors’ final show represents toughest act yet

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 27, 2013

 Dakota High School drama students dance while rehearsing the “Annie Get Your Gun” ballroom scene. The show runs from April 11 to April 13.

Dakota High School drama students dance while rehearsing the “Annie Get Your Gun” ballroom scene. The show runs from April 11 to April 13.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Kelly Schmidt first saw the play “Annie Get Your Gun” while visiting New York as a freshman in high school.

“It inspired me,” said Schmidt, who has directed and choreographed Dakota High School’s plays for nine years.

Schmidt knew she one day wanted to direct the Irving Berlin musical, and because of its large number of prominent roles — three male and three female — and because of the depth of talent among her current drama students, she said now was the perfect time for it.

“We have such big talent, so we really wanted to have a lot of main characters,” she said recently while the students rehearsed the play’s ballroom scene in the school’s auditorium.

While the play, which runs from April 11-13, allows Schmidt to showcase the students’ talent, “Annie” gives two departing seniors a chance to exit Dakota while leaving an impact.

“I’m hoping to go out with a bang my senior year,” said Cassady Temple, who plays Annie Oakley.

Temple, 16, called portraying Annie the greatest stretch in acting she’s had to endure so far.

“It’s a very welcome challenge,” Temple said. “It’s so unlike every character I’ve ever played.”

Temple, who has been the female lead in three other Dakota plays, most recently played Marian in “Robin Hood.” Annie Oakley, Temple said, is Marian’s direct opposite.

“Annie doesn’t really understand social classes and social norms, while Marian is very social-class oriented,” she said. “Annie just kind of doesn’t care what anyone thinks.”

Temple has even seen the tomboyish role seep into her personal life. She once caught herself jokingly punching a friend in the arm, much like the character Annie does.

“I’m sorry,” she recalled saying. “I’m not a boy. I don’t know why I just did that.”

Senior Dean Michel, 17, said playing Frank Butler was a large step from the supporting, comedic characters to which he had become accustomed to playing.

“I play a very serious, very manly character,” Michel said. “I’m always used to having that comedic intention with everything I say, but now it’s just different.”

With “Annie Get Your Gun” being his fifth and final production, he wanted to land a lead role for the first time.

“Being in five productions, people always say, ‘I remember you in this one’ or ‘that one,’” Michel said. “I want this one to be the one they remember me for.”

In order to become the sharpshooting, no-nonsense love interest of Annie Oakley, he studied actors Sam Elliot and Kurt Russell — both known for their westerns — and practiced his grimace in the mirror.

“I’ve been working very hard to convey that serious tone within my character,” Michel said.

Schmidt said she picked Michel to portray Frank Butler for his first lead role because of his great on-stage chemistry with Temple and because of his vocal ability.

“The interaction and the chemistry on stage with Annie and Frank is very important,” she said. “They really communicate well on stage and really play off each other.”

And if the chemistry lasts from rehearsals to live production, the two actors may, together, overcome their toughest roles yet.

Dakota High School’s drama students will perform “Annie Get Your Gun” on April 11, 12 and 13 at Dakota High School.

Tickets are $10 each and are available online at or can be purchased at the door.

All shows begin at 7:00pm. For more information call (586) 723-2700.