For any organization, thriving for 50 years is a major accomplishment, and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma has defied the odds and will spend 2013 celebrating its 50th Anniversary in style. Deciding what show should open such a monumental season must have been challenging, but Lyric’s Artistic Director Michael Baron decided on SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, which will run January 30 through February 16 at the Plaza Theatre. The production is a rousing review of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music featuring songs from CINDERELLA, OKLAHOMA!, THE KING AND I, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and many more.
“SOME ENCHANTED EVENING is the perfect way to open our 50th Anniversary Season because, in a way, the show is a celebration of theatre itself,” said Baron. “Rodgers & Hammerstein gave so much to the world of musical theatre and many of their creations have appeared on Lyric’s stages throughout its 50 years.”
There are five cast members that will make up the main characters of the show, but this production of SOME ENCHANTED EVENING will have a special feature: each performance will include a returning actor from Lyric’s past. Notable performers include Marilyn Govich, Lyn Cramer, Charlotte Franklin, Jane Hall, Bob Windsor, Lexi Windsor, Matthew Alvin Brown and many more. Performing during every show will be regional favorites Dallas Lish, Jamie Buxton, Heather Geery, Ethan Spell and Melissa Griffith.
To view a full schedule of guest performers visit LyricTheatreOKC.com. Tickets to all of Lyric’s 2013 shows are now on sale and are available for purchase online, at Lyric’s box office at 1727 NW 16th Street or by calling (405) 524-9312. Performances will be held at the Plaza Theatre at 1725 NW 16th Street. Performance times are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Guest post by Michaela Webb
Year after year since its revitalization, the Plaza District continues to attract new and exciting retailers, restaurants, organizations and fans. Last year, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma debuted LYRIC’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, turning the Plaza District into not only a destination for holiday shopping and a night on the town, but for the creation of new traditions.
“It was very exciting to see families, friends and couples coming to the Plaza District to celebrate the holidays with LYRIC’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL,” said Lyric’s Artistic Director Michael Baron. “Now that we’re in our second year of the production, it’s thrilling to have all those that loved it last year returning and bringing even more loved ones to experience it for the first time.”
Baron’s original adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic is unlike what audiences typically expect from the redemption tale—picture flying ghosts, larger-than-life puppets and beautiful carol singing. Not to mention, as an audience member, be prepared to experience a little snowfall.
Last year’s debut was met with rave reviews from audiences and they weren’t the only ones that fell in love with the show. The entire adult cast from 2011 opted to return for this year’s run, including Oklahoma City favorites Jonathan Beck Reed (Scrooge), Tom Huston Orr (Bob Cratchit), Matthew Alvin Brown (Young Scrooge/Fred), Susan Riley (Mrs. Cratchit), Jayme Petete (Christmas Past), Mandy Jiran (Christmas Present) and more. There are also several talented kids featured throughout the production, which is directed by Baron and choreographed by Lyric’s Associate Artistic Director Ashley Wells.
If you’re looking to start a new tradition or revisit an old favorite in a new way, LYRIC’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL shouldn’t be missed this holiday season and for years to come.
LYRIC’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL will show at the Plaza Theatre, November 30 through December 29. The theatre is located at 1725 NW 16th Street, Oklahoma City, 73106. For tickets call Lyric’s box office at (405) 524-9312, visit LyricTheatreOKC.com or stop by the box office at 1727 NW 16th Street.
Guest post by Michaela Webb
The Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre is presenting “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer. This show is an autobiographical tragedy. The names have been changed to avoid the complicated nightmare dealing with estate resolution in the case of the deceased and also to be more sensitive to family members. But the story is true and many of us remember first hearing about the ‘gay plague’ that was vaguely covered beginning in 1981. It took years, but we soon learned about AIDS.
The subject matter is sensitive to many because the disease is transmitted in many cases by a promiscuous life style in the homosexual community. Initially, not knowing that the transmission occurred in other ways as well, the disease was called GRID (gay related immune deficiency) and as more information became available, AIDS.
The specific interest in the production is narrow—the gay and lesbian community who are most affected and initially the only segment of the population known to be affected. Some are offended by the subject matter yet everyone is in danger. Taking place from July 1981 to May 1984 in New York City, this is the story of those at ‘ground zero’ from the first cases diagnosed.
What is universal to all, regardless of their feelings about the disease or homosexual activity is the frustration these men and women faced as they attempted to get answers and develop information for those infected with the virus and those in danger. They ran up against a brick wall of uncaring, unhearing, uninformed bureaucracy. This is familiar to everyone to a greater or lesser extent, and is probably the biggest threat to freedom faced in the 21st century.
Dr. Emma Brookner is the doctor in New York City who studied, treated and fought for answers and treatment from the earliest days. She steadfastly stood by her patients, a constantly growing number of individuals, but with changing faces as so many of them died. A victim of polio, she sets aside her own pain to help these poor young men coming to her with hope, and held their hands when hope began to die. The role of Dr. Brookner is beautifully played by Stacey Logan who captures her rough and tough exterior tempered by a heart filled with love.
Ned Weeks is the writer who struggles in the way that all writers do. His only love in life is that shared with his straight brother Ben, who accepts him. Unfortunately Weeks cannot commit himself to any relationship requiring him to give of himself that love which is romantic. When he finally finds that one person he can share his life with he loves unconditionally and completely. As he first discovers that many of his friends are afflicted he naturally begins to fight for information and help. As he becomes personally affected, facing the loss of someone he loves, his fight becomes desperate. Jonathan Beck Reed captures Ned Weeks perfectly revealing a man who is courageous, outspoken and above all highly principled. Michael Jones is an excellent Ben Weeks, a man who can love and accept a younger brother who has crossed a line that many of the era could not cross. This takes place only 30 years ago and there are still many people who refuse to accept such an alien life style, yet Ben Weeks, does so wholeheartedly and loves his brother unabashedly. The performance of Jones reveals this, and yet we see the natural reservations he hides from his beloved brother until they become temporarily estranged.
Weeks forms one of the first organization to combat AIDS in New York City. His colleague is Bruce Niles a handsome man firmly in the closet. Niles is elected President and his cautious approach is sensible but seems to reflect his need to remain hidden from public view to protect his position. Weeks and Niles butt heads continually. Drew Pollack shows the audience the horrible conflict he faces daily as he struggles with the bureaucracy and the loss of lovers. Tommy Boatwright is the flamboyant member of the organization. He likes to shock and swish just a little and could never stay in any closet. And he is the wisest member of the group in understanding the human condition. Brian Hamilton adds just the right amount of poignancy to the role, and a nice touch of humor.
Matthew Alvin Brown is Felix Turner, the young lover of Ned Weeks. The profoundly deep feelings that develop between the two of them as they meet and fall in love during this battle is stirring. Brown and Beck beautifully portray a loving couple facing tragedy with grace and strength.
Michael Corolla plays Mickey Marcus, the quiet, unassuming and very effective member of the organization. He takes care of the details with determination and dedication. When the depths of his passion and anger is revealed it is both shocking and natural, and Corolla’s characterization is superb.
Terry Veal is an officious bureaucrat in the Mayor’s office. He must balance his naturally bureaucratic attitude with his genuine concern as a gay man in a public setting. The character Veal develops of Hiram Keebler is one of the best performances Veal has ever given. Wil Rogers as Craig Donner and an orderly, Scott C. Hynes as David and an orderly, Scotty Taylor as Grady, Daniel Leeman Smith as an orderly and Larry Sharp as the Examining Doctor all perform excellently amidst this great cast.
Ben Hall, Assistant to the Director is invaluable, but the credit of this excellent production must go to Rene Moreno. Moreno takes a great cast and allows them full range in an extremely tragic story yet orchestrates this production with a light but firm touch. The piece is thought provoking and tears stream from the eyes of the audience as they leave the theatre, but they are also hopeful and ready to fight, whether the issue is the same as just seen or another, they understand and are ready for any fights they must face. Further, Moreno’s direction allows the audience to be entertained. It is hard to make such a tragedy as this entertaining to a general audience, yet in “The Normal Heart” this is accomplished.
The crew, the understudies, the CityRep management the actors and most of all Director Moreno should be congratulated heartily for this production – a production Larry Kramer could see himself in as if gazing in a mirror. There is a wall of petty indifference that Weeks came up against and could not dent, not because he is gay, but because the wall doesn’t care. While “The Normal Heart” is of specific interest to the gay and lesbian community, it is universal because sooner or later we will all bang our heads with futility and desperation against such a wall.
“The Normal Heart” plays through November 18, 2012 in the Freede Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall. Curtain is at 7:30 pm for the convenience of the parking public and 1:30 for matinees. For tickets call CityRep at 405-848-3761 or visit www.cityrep.com. Go – not because you’re gay if you are, but because you are human as we all are.
On Thursday, November 1, 2012 CityRep Theatre hosted a benefit tribute to Lyle Dye Jr. The room at The Castle where the event took place was filled to the brim with the warmth that can only be generated by the heat of love stoked with respect. Everyone had one thing in common: Lyle Dye as a mentor, or as a mentor’s mentor. The event raised some important funds for CityRep but more importantly raised the spirits of everyone who remembers Lyle Dye Jr.
The man is someone you’d walk through fire for, or, in my case, eat it. Years ago when I first worked with Lyle I understood immediately his important contribution to my character as an actress and as a person. Here was a man who never expected you to be able to do the impossible. He did demand your best, and the best only looks impossible!
Ethics, humor, talent, empathy (shhh, that’s a secret) and dedication create a lasting legacy. Lyle Dye has created the legacy here in Oklahoma City, Akron, Ohio, New York City and Johnsburg, New York where he has just been named “Person of the Year.” He has a feather touch in the lives of all of us, and all those we touch as well.
There were many stories at the benefit remembered by many associates here in Oklahoma City. They all have the one thing in common that touches my soul. Lyle Dye Jr. is a man who loves the theatre, loves the people who love the theatre and never compromises his integrity. There is always a smile lurking behind his eyes as he develops each creative soul. Tears blurred the vision of all as he rose to express his thanks and love of every testament he heard and those he remembers from the old days as well as the new days. He remembers every face and every character, and even if he may not remember every actor’s name he remembers their triumph. He is glad to know that we credit him with the triumphs he saw then as well as the triumphs we see now.
His talent is large and evidenced by his great body of work. His heart is large and shown by the continued affection of the community. His soul is large and is clearly seen in the exactness of character each of us creates in the mirror as we imagine his reflection along with whoever we wish to become. So we all love him unreservedly.
Thank you sir, for those wonderful years in Oklahoma City at Lyric and the Oklahoma Theatre Center. Thank you for your contributions in New York, Ohio, New York and everywhere you touch. Your continued efforts are an inspiration to us now and forever. Have good shows back in New York at the beautiful Lyle Dye Jr. Theatre and never forget that you are remembered with love and respect.
Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (CityRep), is hosting a benefit and tribute to Lyle Dye Jr. The event is “Black Tie to Tie Dye and Anything in Between” and honors Dye’s contribution to the theatre community and Oklahoma City particularly.
Dye has a prestigious resume as a director from New York to Los Angeles to Oklahoma City and back again to New York. A graduate of Drake University with an MFA in directing from Yale University, Dye came to Oklahoma City in 1971 as Artistic Director of Lyric Theatre. He made profound contributions to the growth of Lyric Theatre during his tenure. He also became Executive Director of the Oklahoma Theatre Center. During his time in Oklahoma City, Dye’s influence radiated throughout the theatrical community.
Lyle Dye has an excellent grasp of human nature, a generous spirit and wit, and the rare ability to turn a flaw into an asset. He has earned great respect and good will from colleagues and from the many performers who worked under his direction. He is remembered with much fondness by those who knew him in the good old days, but he has also provided a lasting legacy for the Oklahoma City community. Actors and directors who never met him benefit from the traditions he established–traditions of common sense, wit, honesty and integrity. Dye has given the Oklahoma City community great foundations in theatre.
The “Black Tie to Tie Dye” benefit will take place on Thursday, November 1st at Castle Falls, 820 N MacArthur Boulevard from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The cost is $100 per person or $175 per couple, and black tie is not required. There will be entertainment to salute Lyle Dye for his achievements and contributions. Do not miss this is an opportunity to see a beloved mentor again or meet for the very first time a man whose life still shapes the performing arts community in Oklahoma City. In addition to honoring Dye, the benefit supports CityRep and its continuing commitment to excellence in Oklahoma theatre. Contact Michael Jones at CityRep (405-410-8035) for further information or for tickets to the benefit.
Oklahoma City Theatre Company presents the classic “Frankenstein” in a nod to Halloween and lovers of the classic horror story. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of the novel first published in 1818, appears as a character in the adaptation by Dorothy Louise. Louise is a modern dramatist and, in the current modern vein, writes somewhat impressionistically. “Frankenstein” is a period piece from the early 19th century and is a Gothic Romance. Director Fabrice Conte attempts to represent the mixed styles in this production and his cast certainly fulfills their obligations, but the play comes across as confusing to the audience. The action is not hard to follow as Louise parallels the action of Mary Shelley conceiving the novel and Victor Frankenstein conceiving the creature. Unfortunately, the fragmented modern style mixed with the Gothic traditional does not play well. The costumes are either period or evocative of the period, yet the doctor uses a clearly 20th century manufactured mask and gloves in his operation. This creates a wishy-washy attitude that Mary Shelley, as a character, is unable to surmount.
Overall the actors do an excellent job in the characterizations. Mary Shelley is well played by Keila Lorenc. Paul Mitchell as Victor Frankenstein is a little too melodramatic at times, yet the two of them interact nicely in those scenes where Frankenstein is developing his idea for the scientific feasibility of reanimation and Shelley is developing her idea for the story of creation.
Lance Reese does a superb job as Alphonse Godwin, father to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, and he also is the father for Victor Frankenstein and for Victor’s cousin and intended Elizabeth Lavenza played by Krissy Jones. The role of younger brother William is played by Jackson Gifford. Reese delineates these awkward relationships crisply and his performance enhances the understandability of the other performers. The role of Henry Clerval is taken by Christopher Robinson, Lord Byron is Kevin Logan, Professor Waldman is Rich Bailey and Professor Kremke is played by Conor Yob. These gentlemen do an excellent job of representing the period and the pressures upon Mary Shelley to produce a novel calculated to impress her husband’s cronies.
The role of Justine Moritz, the young woman accused of the heinous crime committed by Frankenstein’s Creature, is played by Megan Nicole Nelson with sensitivity. The role of Caroline, wife of Alphonse, who wastes away as the result of the tragedies visited upon her family, is beautifully done by Lana Wood Henson. Christopher Davis plays Captain Walton, James McCown is a realistic blind man and Conner Maguire is the magistrate. The role of the Creature is excellently done by Joshua Irick. Without the expertise of actors Irick and Reese, the play might have been a great deal more difficult to watch.
While this adaptation has been well received by many audiences it takes strict attention to detail to avoid violating the audience expectations. In this production, Conte’s direction is unequal to overcoming the pitfalls inherent in the approach taken by the “Frankenstein” adaptation author, Louise. Good theatre is meant to be entertaining and often thought provoking; perplexing is never the intent of a good dramatist or a good director.
“Frankenstein” is collaboration between Oklahoma City Theatre Company and St. Gregory’s University. “Frankenstein” will be playing through October 27th at the City Space Theatre in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City. For ticket information visit the Oklahoma City Theatre Company website at www.okctc.org or call 405-297-2264.
The Plaza District seems to be a few degrees chillier than the rest of the city these days. This is likely due to the fact that Halloween is arriving at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’ s Plaza Theatre a little early this year with the premiere of “The Mystery of Irma Vep” on Wednesday, October 10. The show runs for three weeks, closing on Saturday, October 27. If the start of “Lyric’s A Christmas Carol” means the holiday season is in full swing, then this show is surely the way to kick-off the year’s spookiest celebration.
For those who have not recently brushed up on their theater history, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” was written by Charles Ludlam and is one of the most-produced plays in history. The script, a spoof on Victorian melodramas and horror films, requires masterful comedic timing and the humor is likened to that of the “Carol Burnett Show.” Much like the theater favorite “Greater Tuna,” all eight parts in the show are portrayed by just two actors. Think lighting fast costume changes, a slew of funny accents and (you guessed it) men portraying Victorian era women. Spooky hilarity ensues, to say the least.
Lyric’s Artistic Director Michael Baron is directing the play as an answer to decades of fascination with Charles Ludlam and his work. The theatre has brought in two of its audiences’ favorite actors—Monte Riegel Wheeler and Jeffrey Meek. Wheeler was most recently seen playing the Ed Sullivan-loving Mr. MacAfee in last summer’s BYE BYE BIRDIE. The ridiculous faces he is able to make alone are enough for me to go see “Irma Vep.” Wheeler’s on-stage counterpart, Jeffrey Meek, not only acts as the resident costume designer at Lyric year-round, but you may have also seen his work at The Boom as Norma Jean Goldstein.
I spoke with Meek and Wheeler earlier this week. “Irma Vep is going to be one crazy ride,” said Meek. “The perfect Halloween treat—it starts off spooky and quickly takes the audiences on a fast-paced, out of control night of old school fun.”
“The show is filled with thrills, chills, horror, high drama and outrageous comedy,” said Wheeler. “Audiences can expect colorful characters, excitement, intrigue, a lot of laughs and some fun surprises!”
Start your Halloween off right with “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” October 10-27, at Lyric’s Plaza Theatre. Click here for tickets or call the box office at (405) 524-9312.
By Elizabeth Hurd and Anna Holloway
In professional theatre, the dream of a lifetime is to grasp with humility a Tony Award. Presented by the American Theatre Wing in honor of Antoinette Perry, an accomplished actress of the early 20th century and one of the Wing’s founders, the Tony recognizes excellence in Broadway theatre.
Yet the American Theatre Wing does not stop with noting the deserving performer in New York City. Over the past 55 years, the American Theatre Wing has shown its dedication to not-for-profit theatres by distributing some $3 million dollars through its Theatre Company Grants Program. These grants, although less well known, are equally prestigious. Among these are the Jonathan Larson Grant (awarded to musical theatres) and the National Theatre Company Grant. This can only be awarded to companies that are between 5 and 15 years in continuous operation with an established record of excellence in theatre.
In the American Theatre Wing’s own words, the grant of $10,000 is “…for general operating support to companies which have articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theatre.”
This year, for the first time, one recipient of the National Theatre Company Grant is an Oklahoma company. The dedicated and talented members of Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (CityRep) have earned this national recognition for their hard work, attention to detail, accuracy and expertise. CityRep is led by Artistic Director Donald Jordan, and this dedicated group is proud to receive the honor.
CityRep has just completed 10 difficult and rewarding years of operation providing professional theatre to Oklahomans. From their home base at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City, the company has produced Oklahoma premieres and returning favorites. Their efforts and talents are showcased in the upcoming 11th season opening September 7 with the timely show November by David Mamet. This production should not only entertain us but will also encourage us to perform our civic right and duty – to vote.
In addition to Jordan as Founding Artistic Director, the company includes Development Director and Production Stage Manager Steve Emerson, Artistic Associate Michael Jones and Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Beck Reed. Kurt Leftwich serves as Box Office Manager, Anna Holloway as Dramaturg and Historian, and the Official Photographer for CityRep is Wendy Mutz. The company operates under a Board of Directors consisting of twenty members headed by President Ruth Charnay. Many of the actors in each production are members of Actors Equity. CityRep is now in its eleventh season of producing professional theatre for culturally aware and sophisticated Oklahoma audiences.
Oklahoma is nationally remembered for disasters like the dustbowl and the Murrah Building bombing, or for sports teams taking national and international attention from the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team to the football programs at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. We don’t often get credit for Oklahoma’s significant contribution to the arts.
Oklahoma is a hotbed of talent. Many Broadway and Hollywood stars have been nurtured in this heartland by the great theatre training programs at our local colleges and universities. We should all be proud: of our young performers, of those who have gone on to represent us on the national stage, of our diverse residents who support the arts in this great state.
CityRep is one company that offers talented young performers a doorway to professional excellence. And the American Theatre Wing, by making CityRep the recipient of one of the 10 National Theatre Company Grants in 2012, has chosen to remind all of us, and the nation, that Oklahoma is a land of creativity and endeavor that rivals the Big Apple in texture, taste and talent.
The grant money is welcome, of course, but the honor gives all Oklahomans another reason to be proud. Artistic Director Jordan states: “The recognition from the American Theatre Wing is a tremendous honor. It is a tribute to the efforts and talent of the artists from Oklahoma, Broadway and throughout our American professional Regional Theater whose work has been represented on our stages as well as the steadfast support of our loyal patrons, dedicated Board members and generous supporters. Together we are striving to enhance our community’s Artistic, Educational and Economic future. We are very grateful to the ATW for this award and for all they do to promote and support professional theater in our country.”
The National Theatre Company Grant is our Tony Award – a Tony for the state as well as for CityRep. It is just as inspiring as a Heisman or Olympic Medal.
Congratulations to CityRep as a truly professional theatre and to Oklahoma as a truly cultural haven.
-Emily Etherton is the Managing Director for Ghostlight Theatre Club in OKC and can be seen in their upcoming production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot which runs Feb. 25- March 19.
I remember a day in high school drama class, standing on the edge of the stage, my back to the house, with a group of my classmates poised below me in the orchestra pit. One, two, three…fall back. The point of the exercise, of course, was trust. I knew then how important it is to trust your fellow actors, but it has only been in very recent years when I’ve begun to understand that trust is the most important factor for any successful theatrical endeavor.
Trust the playwright. No one knows better what the play is supposed to convey than the person whose ideas first formed the story. No one knows better how a character is supposed to speak than the author who conjured that character in the first place. Actors should take comfort in the fact that everything they need to create a role is given to them, either in black and white right there in the printed script or between the lines or in the way other characters speak about them. Our first responsibility is to do justice to the playwright’s voice, and if we trust that they have done their part for the play, all we as actors have to do is follow their lead.
Trust the director. If anyone wants a show to be successful, it’s the director. We actors from time to time have to set aside our egos and trust that the director has the show’s best interest at heart. In most cases, the director has spent more time working on the script, in preproduction and in rehearsals, than anyone else involved in the process, and like it or not, we are charged with the task of bringing the script to life via the director’s vision. As hard as it is to do, setting aside our actor’s vanity and trusting the director can be the best thing that can happen for a performance.
Trust the audience. If the playwright, director, and actors have laid the ground work, then we have to trust that the audience will come along for the ride. Step outside the box, do something experimental, try something different. The audience will come with us. Our art form is based on the suspension of disbelief and if we firmly believe in our characters, believe in the text, believe in the theatrical experience, our audience will believe it too.
Theatre is probably the most collaborative of all the artistic disciplines, and possibly one of the most emotionally revealing. A playwright exposes his or her creation to the world, a director and technical team mold that creation into a personal visual experience, a cast of actors bare their own psyches and souls within that experience, and ultimately the audience receives this experience and bounces that energy back to the performers. If any one part of this process were missing, it would fail to be what theatre strives to be. Only if we trust each other throughout the process, from beginning to end, can theatre transcend the ordinary, and truly become a shared journey.
On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 6:36 AM, Elizabeth Hurd <email@example.com> wrote: