Over a century ago barbershop quartets became quite popular largely due to the versatility and beauty of the four voices harmonizing. In the middle of the 20th century boy bands became very popular, and the best elements of a male quartet harmony incorporated into those popular groups such as The Ames Brothers, The Four Freshman, The Four Lads and others. “Forever Plaid” now showing at the Pollard Theatre in Guthrie recreates the best elements of the boy band phenomenon with Jake DeTommaso, Clayton Blair, Jared Blount and Doug Rankin. These young men are very talented and harmonize as if they have been together for years. In short, they are pretty. In the same sense that the fluid harmony of a barbershop quartet is pretty; these fellows have that soothing sound. As Frank Sinatra, a barbershop quartet member prior to his successful career as a solo crooner provides that same prettiness that is so romantic.
W. Jerome Stevenson, Musical Director and Timothy Stewart, Director have combined their talents with these four men to create a show that is humorous, poignant and most of all – mellow with “Forever Plaid” written by Stuart Ross. More of a Musical Revue than a play, “Forever Plaid” allows a discriminating audience to be thoroughly entertained and emotionally stimulated. Because the boy bands flourished during the 50’s, “Forever Plaid” is a show for the 50-plus crowd, but also, for any vocal music lover the show is a delightful escape. It is an experience appreciated by lovers of any age without resorting to titillation.
Todd Malicoate on Piano, Jason Hunt on Bass and Aaron Marshall, Percussionist accompany the singers discreetly yet flourishingly, adding a nice dimension to the presentation. Michael James, Costume Designer, executes perfect tuxedos and the cast looks as snappy as they sound.
The four singers, Jinx, Frankie, Sparky and Smudge invite romance so couples may have the greatest appreciation for the program.
“Forever Plaid” shows through September 15th 2012 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. There are two Sunday and Thursday performances (September 5th and 14th for Thursdays and 2 pm Sundays September 2nd and 9th.) Tickets are available online at www.thepollard.org or at the box office at 120 W. Harrison Avenue or simply dial 405-282-2800 for reservations.
In order to be accepted into any cat society such as Jellicle cats, first accept the genuine and endearing sensual and sinuous approach to life that only felines master. In order to cast the musical “Cats” gather those felines in human form who have mastered cat hood in any one of their nine lives. In order to keep the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber pure, look first to the poems of T. S. Eliot because only Jellicle cats can sing with feline truth. At Jewel Box Theatre in Oklahoma City, Director and Choreographer Susan Webb has done just that. This is a cast of cats.
Musical Director Stephanie Moring works well with Webb to create the wonder of “Cats” in the songs, as each cat member emotes perfectly. But is it in the movement that the characterizations are most fully realized and Webb has choreographed the production so that it accommodates the area of performance and compliments those special talents of cats.
Costumer Mimi Lynch did not undertake the creation of costumes for the show, but her contributions in organizing the costumes supplied by Costume World Theatrical are evident. A simple set with a wonderfully defined floor space and excellent lighting gives the show an eerie look into the world of cats living within the confines of human society.
The largely ensemble cast cannot be credited individually, but they worked together as one in attitude and motion. There are a few notable stand outs that should be mentioned among the dancers and central characters. Makenna Smith takes the role of Grizabella with that unusual grace only cats can exhibit when age robs them of their vitality. Her heartfelt rendition of ‘Memory’ brings tears to the eyes. Bob Windsor as Old Gus is equally cat-like in his movements as the elderly cat from the theatre. His reminiscing is wonderfully executed. Randall Hunter as Deuteronomy is excellently portrayed as is Scott Hynes in his creation of Munkustrap. A personal favorite, Jennyanydots, is beautifully created by Elizabeth Dragoo and Megan Montgomery’s Jemima is equally delightful. Among the dancers, Emily Frances Brown as Victoria the white kitten is nicely done and Quincy Allen as Alonzo, the Rumpus Cat and Macavity dances exuberantly, expertly and with emotional honesty.
“Cats” is an ambitious project for a small company such as the Jewel Box Community Theatre; however, they have met the bar such a project raises and exceeding expectations marvelously. Almost everyone should see a superb performance of “Cats” somewhere along the line. There are many companies that tour the production. “Cats” is the second longest running Broadway Musical in history. “Cats” is a Tony Award Winner. For anybody who has not had the opportunity to see the professional production on Broadway or one of the many touring productions seeing this production of “Cats” will fulfill the promise.
“Cats” is a production for all humans whether ‘catty’ or not. Take the kids and the grandma and go. To Jewel Box Theatre Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8:00pm and Sunday afternoons at 2:30pm through September 16th. For reservations call 405-521-1786 and the box office answers Tuesday through Friday from 1:00pm until 6:00pm. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at the First Christian Church at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Anyone who doesn’t remember the 50’s is missing a fantastic time of innocence and discovery, charm and simple rebellion. Any child of the 60’s still sings the fifties music in the shower. Profound apologies forever for that rendition of “Chances Are” to Johnny Mathis.
The clothes were awful; yet dressing retro now is more fun with a poodle skirt and a pony tail. Michael James as costumer will see to that for “Forever Plaid” opening the Pollard Theatre 26th Season.
“Forever Plaid’ revisits those days with the music of a young fictional boy band that is reminiscent of every one we remember. Spanky, Jinx, Smudge and Frankie showcase the music of Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, The Four Lads and The Ames Brothers with lots of great tunes such as “Catch a Falling Star”
and “Sixteen Tons” to name just a few.
Jake DeTommaso, Clayton Blair, Jared Blount and Doug Rankin are the featured players in “Forever Plaid” and Todd Malicoate as Musical Director and Accompanist ensures that these four young men will recreate that 50’s loving feeling.
According to Director and Choreographer, Timothy Stewart, ‘This show is such a great blend of charm and silliness, nostalgia and family; it’s exactly the kind of show I love to do and, in addition to being really fun and funny, it evokes such warm feelings. It’s the perfect escape.’ And with Stewart at the helm after his great success in “Beehive” and also “Legally Blonde”, not to mention “Smokey Joe’s Café”, Stewart will have another hit.
Tickets for “Forever Plaid” are only $25.00. Senior, military and student discounts as well as rush tickets are available. Performances are August 245h – September 15, 2012, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm., Thursdays (September 6th and 13th) at 8 pm., and Sundays (September 2nd and 9th) at 2 pm. Tickets are available online at www.thepollard.org. by phone at 405-282-2800 or at the Pollard Theatre box office at 120 W Harrison Ave. Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044. It’s time for a little fun!
Meow! The Jewel Box Theatre opens its 55th season Thursday, August 23rd, with the hit Broadway musical “Cats”. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber,“Cats” is the second longest-running show in Broadway history. This production is choreographed by Susan Wedley Webb; the set decoration is by Dale Morgan; and the all-around amazing cast features the talents of former Miss Oklahoma, Makenna Smith, all under the direction of the inestimable Chuck Tweed. Come out and enjoy “Cats”, the first delight in a hallmark season dedicated to the memory of Martha Knott.
Shows run Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 PM, through September 16th. Call 521-1786, Tuesday through Friday, from 1:00 until 6:00 for reservations, or, to keep the fun going, why not buy a season ticket? Your $50.00 not only buys you a ticket to “Cats”, but seats for five more shows to keep you entertained for the entire season.
Because of the expected response to “Cats”, all normal discounts will be suspended for this show only.
“Cyndi… The Story” plays through Sunday at the Poteet Theatre at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. A cabaret which chronicles the extraordinary life of Cyndi Steele-Harrod through her early years, amnesia, cancer, getting married, having children– all while pursuing a life in the theatre. With honest vulnerability, Cyndi will take you on her life journey, leaving you filled with hope and a renewed sense of purpose. This production is moving, funny, and an uplifting journey with someone who means so much to Poteet Theatre. The show runs Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th at 8PM and Sunday the 19th at 3PM. Tickets are $25, and all proceeds go to purchasing new dance floors for Poteet Theatre Arts Education. You can purchase tickets by calling 405.609.1023 or at the box office. See you there!
On a broken day it makes a lot of sense to curl up in front of the television with a box of tissues and watch old movies. Movie stars are fantastic. On a day that could be fixed it makes a lot more sense to take a shower and go out and see a live performance. The theatre is electric. The gleam in the eye of Jerome Stevenson as he speaks of making connections with an audience is communicated around the room and Michael Baron begins to get excited as he speaks about the stars at Lyric Theatre making that connection. Donald Jordan actually jumps up with joy telling how actors and directors make that connection. These three dedicated gentlemen are the Artistic Directors for the three Equity or ‘Professional’ Theatres in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
Stevenson is Artistic Director for the Pollard Theatre in Guthrie, just twenty short minutes from downtown Oklahoma City. The Pollard Theatre is just winding up 25 years in operation with a resident company living, working and entertaining in Guthrie. Baron is the Artistic Director for the Lyric Theatre, just beginning their 51st season in Oklahoma City with outstanding musical theatre using local Equity Members and talent, and bringing in other Equity Actors from all points east and west. Jordan is Artistic Director of CityRep with 10 delightful seasons of Equity Performers bringing the best and newest theatre to central Oklahoma with the heart of the heartland.
There are numerous theatre choices in central Oklahoma: University Theatre, Community Theatre and Professional Theatre. The students are learning their craft and as students often perform at a professional level. Community talent is strong in Oklahoma and consists of those talented performers who either did not choose to join Actor’s Equity or, well, Life Happened. Lyric Theatre, CityRep Theatre and the Pollard Theatre consist of actors who are paid for their services and have committed to provide the public with professional level performances consistently. That is not to say that professional level performances do not occur at the community or college level because that certainly happens. However, these three professional theatres always do so.
Having worked as a critic for several years here in Oklahoma City and Guthrie it is easy to see that professionalism has been without exception the rule. It is the job of the critic to let readers know whether or not a show is one they should see and, at the professional level, there has not ever been a show that shouldn’t be seen because it wasn’t good enough. There are occasions where a show might not be appropriate for sensitive or youthful audiences. Everything a review is about is a combination of nit-picking and constructive criticism. No one can claim to like every play ever written and performed. Every performance in Oklahoma City mounted by these theatres is an acclaimed piece of writing. If that writing is directed towards a mature audience that needs to be noted, but that is not a criticism. The review is invariably about the production and should be limited to criticism on that level. There are a few delightful occasions when we get an original script, and that review may include script criticism with the understanding that, here, we are drama critics, not literary critics.
With the apologia for this perspective out of the way, let us consider the goals of these three artists. Watching them connect with each other the way Stevenson talks about connecting with the audience is just as magical as the performance. Baron is ecstatic as he discusses the recent performance of Chita Rivera in “Chita Rivera My Broadway” an evening of love. The love that Rivera has for her craft and the love and respect she has for her audience as she labors to extend this feeling out in radiating and pulsating sound. Baron admires Rivera because he shares her commitment. And he has a troupe of performers and technicians helping him share that commitment with each audience. Jordan mentions several of his guest artists as well as several Oklahoma regulars. Their commitment is to entertain, educate, illuminate and inspire the audience. This commitment is not on a shallow or surface level. It is, rather, on an organic and basic level. These productions are meant to confirm, change and enable an audience to a greater understanding of life itself. These productions must be chosen with that in mind, because that is invariably what happens. As Stevenson describes the connection that occurs between the audience and the cast in a show, one can see something happening on a personal level. This connection just doesn’t happen with a box and a screen as wonderful as they are.
Jordan noted one of his favorite quotes from Thornton Wilder: “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. There is nothing more beautiful, inspiring and thought provoking than the naked emotion that is genuinely communicated between people and lovers. When it comes across the footlights the emotion is often more realized than coming across the candle lights.
So what value do these organizations have for the community at large? Education, Entertainment and Economy. Jordan directs me to a National Endowment for the Arts Study which shows that every dollar spent on live entertainment generates $11.00 in local income. That’s a pretty important contribution too!
These theatres have made these commitments and, obviously, they have been excellent stewards of public funds as well as public trust. They have provided diversity here in Oklahoma that is an outstanding asset and just like the excellence in other artistic areas; sports and nature have fostered an attractive business climate for job creating. That’s adds a little something to the pot doesn’t it? And out of the pot?—about $25.00 a pop as a comfortable average.
Clearly Oklahoma has a strong foundation in talent. Witness the number of successful community theatre organizations and University organizations. Oklahoma City University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University all have excellent programs which nurture that innate talent that arises out of the prairie. Central Oklahoma can support three professional theatres because there is so much heart in the heartland. And that leads us back to the connective tissue Stevenson discusses: It is the audience that is the force behind the phenomenon of Oklahoma talent.
Yes – it is you.
I would like to thank the new contributing authors that are now writing for me. In addition to Keely Womack many writers are going to contribute stories on upcoming theatrical extravaganzas! Don’t forget to sign your name and we would all appreciate the comments of our readers. A little applause, please — these actors, directors and crew do a great job and the writers who help me are doing a great job letting us know. Thank you.
Oklahoma Arts: Scene & Hurd
OKC IMPROV CONTINUES AUGUST SHOWS & CLASSES
OKC Improv, Oklahoma’s premiere showcase for the best local and regional improvisational comedy and theater, will be continuing a five-week run of shows at Reduxion’s Broadway Theatre (1613 N Broadway) every Saturday at 8pm and 10pm through August. Tickets are $12 each. ($6 for improvisers and improv students.) Admission is FREE if you’re celebrating your birthday with us! Many shows sell out so reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made online at www.okcimprov.com.
August 18 – 8 pm show – The Laughing Stocks, Mentalist William Rader, Villain: The Musical
10 pm show – One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State, As We Know It, Off Book
The 8 pm show begins with the short-form comedy of The Laughing Stocks followed by Mentalist William Rader. Utilizing audience participants, Rader will demonstrate amazing feats of deduction, influence, and mind reading throughout the performance. Hold a thought in your mind and he will know it! Ask him a personal question about yourself or your future and he will answer it! Rader’s show is designed to include and engage every member of the audience even if you never set foot on stage. With each successive demonstration of his abilities, you will believe that the impossible is in fact possible. The final group, Villain: The Musical is a completely improvised 30minute musical in the style of the Broadway hit “Wicked” and internet sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” where the most interesting character, the bad guy, is always the focus of the story! Villain has gone on to be one of Oklahoma’s most popular troupes, drawing large crowds at their ongoing regular performances at OKC Improv. They have also performed as part of Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Colorado Improv Festival, Improv Festival Oklahoma and The Big Sexy Weekend of Improv in Dallas.
The 10 pm show opens with the politically themed long form of One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State. The debut performances of As We Know It and Off Book close out the late show.
OKC Improv was founded in 2009 to help facilitate the establishing of a community of performers and fans build around the art of improvisational comedy and theater, also known simply as improv.
Improv is a form of live performance in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment, often taking a suggestion from the audience for inspiration. Improv is unique in that if you see a performance, that’s it… there will never be another show exactly like it ever done again. Improv is different every time.
Improvised shows can differ between different improv troupes, depending on their training, their goals, and their style. Sometimes improv is purely comedy-based, while other times it can be a mix of both comedy and drama, or just drama. Like scripted theatre – without the script, with the actors acting, directing themselves, writing the plot, and interacting with each other all at the same time without previous planning. Quick, rule based games are known as Short Form Improv while Long Form covers extended structures that might focus on narrative storytelling, character study, or even more abstract explorations of concepts and themes.
For tickets and more information, please visit okcimprov.com.
Sue Ellen Reiman
Capt Norm’s Dockside Bar in Bricktown really rocking with Stereodeck. Stereodeck is an absolutely awesome 90′s band–a decade that has a lot of fans but is often overlooked. Stereodeck fills that niche with excessive talent exploding all over the streets of Bricktown. Capt Norm’s posts a sign that says ‘drink, smoke, relax’ and since it is outside the cigarette and cigar smoke is blown away just like the music blows patrons away! The seating is awesome with wonderful shaded swings instead of regular booths and a long bar by the soothing waterway. Capt Norm’s has a great selection of brews and shots, friendly bartenders and an awesome wait staff. And Saturday night proves they have a great ear for entertainment delivering what patrons want — Stereodeck!!! Check out Stereodeck on fb as well as Capt. Norm’s Dockside Bar at www.captnormsdocksidebar.com. for a great patio cigar bar and waterhole experience. Either way you’ll know the next time Stereodeck is playing as well as the other great acts performing for patrons. Norm’s — Stereodeck — Party — oh yeah!!!
Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero graces Oklahoma City’s Civic Center Music Hall this week to close out Lyric Theatre’s summer season. Most, however, know her as simply, Chita Rivera.
Rivera seeks to reclaim her golden years in Chita Rivera My Broadway. She brings with her famous numbers such as “America” from West Side Story in which she played arguably her most famous role of Anita. As she points out in her show, it’s been 55 years since Rivera starred in West Side Story, the show that kick-started the career of a woman who became a staple of American musical theatre.
Sprinkled with name dropping (which she most certainly is right to do after working with some of the biggest names in musical theatre) and witty banter, My Broadway creates a 90-minute autobiography as Rivera takes the audience on a journey from her first audition the the Lyric stage.
Rivera brings back famous songs from many points in her career. Songs from shows like Chicago, The Rink and Sweet Charity are featured. A definite highlight is Rivera’s performance of “Carousel” from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.
Although she is no longer the youthful Anita from West Side Story, Rivera still manages to charm audiences with her personality. She even proves that she still moves as she always has.
For any avid fan of musical theatre, Chita Rivera My Broadway is a must-see. It serves to entertain and even inspire those who see it. After all, in the words of Chita Rivera, “Broadway is all over America; Broadway is not just 42nd Street.”
For tickets, call the Lyric Theatre box office at 405-524-9312, or visit lyrictheatreokc.com. Chita Rivera My Broadway runs through Saturday, August 11.