Annie get your Gun Just Shoot ME!


Hello I am really new to this site and am thrilled with all the advice. Here is the question. I am a novice set designer and am working with a local High School to design sets and effects for Annie Get your Gun. I need to know how to tackle two spots.

1. The Knife throwing trick. How do I make or where do buy the trick knives.

2. Looking for suggestions on how to stage Annies Big rifle scene. Due to the school liability the trapeeze is out of the question. I considered doing a revolve, but not enough money to put it together.

Any Help would be appreciated


I staged this show a few years ago. We had Annie on a large working swing some of the dads rigged up. It was metal and VERY heavy. I remember it took four of my crew to get it out on stage. The swing was about three feet off the ground, and she used a small step stool to get up there. It was perpendicular to the audience. She had a fake gun and there were two groups of girls on either side of the stage, each holding a balloon on her head. Annie would get swinging, then point her gun first front, then she would lean over backwards and shoot behind her, then the other way, so it went really quickly, as fast as the swing went. When she would aim her gun in either direction, one at a time, the girls on each side of the stage would pop her balloon with a small straight pin. There were I think 8 girls on each side. It ended up looking pretty cool, but took a lot of practice. We also decorated the swing with red, white and blue banners and the balloons were r, w, and b. I hope this helps or you find something that does! Break a leg!


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Glad to hear that liability concerns are being considered prior to the show--the Trapeze bit is a very tricky thing to do safely with untrained or high school level students... I was brought in after the fact on Annie get your Gun cause some over anxious dads without a clue decided to do the trapeze, and on its first test it failed sending a student to the hospital... Needless to say I advised against it period for their level of experience, and they did not do the Trapeeze.. Solution--think beefed up saw-horse/hobble horse type of set piece that is more like a small padded table. Its easier to move around--safer for construction and stability, and you don't have to worry about rigging or in-air stuff being done or handled by the inexperienced. The one they constructed at my suggestion was on a rolling flat and the girls would spin annie around as she rode it and shifted position. In the same sense of an "A frame" you could probably use a 1" steel pipe with bolted flange mounts to some 2"x4"'s if you really wanted the trapeeze "look" but it should be bolted thru and thru securely (no wood screws!) to the frame and about chest high... That would be my suggestion on a BASIC way to do the trapeeze stunt...

As for the knives--here is a nother VERY BASIC way to do this. First--use cardboard tinfoil covered "knives"...they work well in appearance for the prop effect for show--and Annie does not have to let go of them but can spin them in her hand like she is throwing a fake throw that she turns upstage to conceal on the move. If one does get out of her hand--its cardboard so it won't hurt anyone.. Then you build a upright box-type flat as the target that has similar fake knives made of 1/4 ply or masonite sprayed silver and or covered in foil, built into the back of it on small sleds or shelves--and they simply are pushed out from behind quickly (usually by a tech concealed inside the upright platform). The trick to this is making the sled or shelve this sits on and slides forward so it does not receed and it stays stable when slid forward--thats usually the biggest pain. I use a dowel or drop pin & eye to pin it in when its pushed forward--but thats just me... Rough estimate on this flat should take into account the depth needed for the tech student to hide in or however you wish to operate this. 18-20" is usually deep enough bnut you can make it designed however you want it to look. Attach a straight pin to the Butt of the knife if it needs to pop a balloon as it "hits"... Make a view area covered on the upstage side, covered with mesh or scrim and painted, for the tech to see thru so they can slam out the fake knife on each throw and the whole gag will have to be practiced to get it to flow. The knife slots should be at least 6-10 inches away from a body part of the person standing (from the audience perspective you won't be able to judge the distance if its is angled correctly)...if you use a switched cast or have understudies, make sure you measure EACH person standing there for safety estimates when you make the slots... The slots are small and narrow enough a little scrim mesh over the slot, cut loosely and painted over the hole, should conceal it enough from obvious view. Sound effect--can be a drum crash or you can get a mechanical "thump" sound... Thats another very basic way to do can expand on this as you need to or feel creative to do.. For high school stuff I usually suggest folks stay basic unless you have a good tech crew--cause often its not about any major technical or complicated run of the show or effects but more for the parents to see their kids and the students to have some fun and learn some College they can learn some of the more advanced stuff.

Hope this helps or at least gives you some starting point ideas..other folks I am sure will have some suggestions from their shows that you can consider as well. good luck...
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Thank you so much.......

I am thinking along the same line about the knife trick, The problem is that the director wants to put teh target cast emmber on a spinning wheel. Of course the director has no idea how difficult this makes the stunt... I am pushing back saying no, a static target is the safest.

I really appreciate the help.


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Spinning wheel, with a person, and knives? Oh dear :eek:


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Premium Member
We did the girl mounted on a spinning wheel, knife throwing trick for a melodrama. The villain was to kill her on the last knife, if not for the stalwart hero coming at the last second.
The wheel was 3/4 plywood bolted to an automobile wheel, which, in turn was mounted onto an old front axle. The axle was welded to a frame about 3' wide and 4' deep with wheels to move it onstage. Cinder blocks were used as counter-weights on the frame. Two costumed "assistants" rotated the wheel and at the proper time triggered the knives.
The knives were spring loaded metal slats about 1" by 1/8" by 4" long. They couldn't be any longer because, when loaded, they would hit the frame as the wheel spun. So to make the knives look longer so the audience could see the handles, I used white pvc pipe that telescoped over the slats and was restrained from flying off by some thin wire. When the knife was released, the inertia moved the pvc out so we had an 8" knife. And, yes, in one show one wire broke and the handle went flying across the stage. The villain covered with "I must choose my weapons more carefully" and the audience laughed.
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We just did the show this past November. If you're in SoCal, check out the Fullerton Civic Light Opera ( We didn't do the knife trick, but for Annie's trick we used a revolve rented from them. It is designed for the knife trick, and has blades that pop out.

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