In the spring of 1966, Music Theater of Lincoln Center, a repertory theater company headed by Richard Rodgers that mounted limited-run summer revivals of Broadway musicals at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, put on a 20th anniversary production of Annie Get Your Gun, which Rodgers had produced in 1946 with his late partner Oscar Hammerstein II, with music by Irving Berlin and Ethel Merman in the title role of Annie Oakley. Merman, now 57 years old, returned for the revival, recreating her most popular role. The revival was less faithful than this might have suggested, however: the show was reconfigured to emphasize the lead characters, Annie and fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler, at the expense of the secondary romantic couple whose two songs, "Who Do You Love, I Hope?" and "I'll Share It All with You," were cut, while Annie and Frank were given a new song, "An Old Fashioned Wedding." Opening on May 31, 1966, the revival was a success; its Lincoln Center run was followed by a national tour and another brief return to Broadway that began on December 21, 1966, and it was recorded by RCA Victor.
As compared to the 1946 original Broadway cast album, this version reveals a Merman whose singing is far more mannered, so that she occasionally sounds like a caricature of herself, especially when her vibrato turns wobbly here and there. But she is still in generally good voice. Bruce Yarnell as Frank, who was half Merman's age when he appeared with her, possesses a sturdy baritone not unlike Howard Keel (from the film version) or even his Broadway predecessor Ray Middleton. His pairing with Merman is far more acceptable on record than it must have seemed onstage. None of the other performers get much of a chance to shine, though Jerry Orbach as advance man Charlie Davenport leads "Colonel Buffalo Bill" and gets in on "There's No Business Like Show Business," and he acquits himself well. The newly written "An Old Fashioned Wedding" is a duet with a countermelody in half-time, always a clever effect when executed well, as it is here. But the song, which finds Frank anticipating a traditional, rustic marriage ceremony and Annie a more elaborate one, is not true to the show. Seemingly influenced by such similar mismatched romantic duets as "Oh Happy We" from Candide, the song has Annie declaring, "I want a wedding like the Vanderbilts have" and revising the marriage pledge "to love and honor, yes, but not obey," pronouncements that run counter to her character.
The Annie Get Your Gun 1966 Broadway revival cast album is a pleasant revisiting of Irving Berlin's best score, but it essentially presents a victory lap taken by a legendary performer past her prime. The original Broadway cast album is preferred.