Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is a coming of age tale told through the eyes of the children Scout, Jem, and Dill. The story explores the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class as Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is faced with defending a black man charged with the rape of a white woman in rural Alabama. The Pollard Theatre is presenting the show in Guthrie, February 22-March 16.
First, some local context: In 1962, a new Junior-Senior High School was opening in central Oklahoma. A 29 year-old librarian and Home Economics teacher was ordered by the principal to remove a book from the shelves because the story had to do with a white woman and a black man. The librarian reportedly said she would not be part of a library that would ban that book. She told the principal that he could just fire her on the spot. Instead, the principal backed down and “To Kill a Mockingbird” remained a part of the school library.
It also remains a significant experience in the theatre, and this month The Pollard Theater will proudly present this American classic. “To Kill a Mockingbird” opens Friday evening, February 22, and runs through Saturday, March 16, with shows Thursday-Saturday evenings and two Sunday matinees.
Director W. Jerome Stevenson has a great affinity for the story and believes the show will be one of the most important of the Pollard’s 26 year history. “One of the best-loved stories of all time,” Stevenson explained, “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ has earned the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, as well as spawned an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century. ‘Mockingbird’ is one of those stories with the ability to reach across dividing lines—race, gender, generations, etc.—to connect people to one another. I believe audiences are going to be touched by this story in a lasting way and I can’t wait for them to experience it.”
Patrons will find the show’s cast to be a diverse cross-section of Pollard veterans as well as some faces new to this Guthrie stage. The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird” includes James A. Hughes, Lane Fields, James Ong, Lance Reese, Gwendolyn Evans, Emily Brown, David Fletcher-Hall, De’Vin Lewis, Beverly Caviness, Cory King, Ben Bates, and a small army of featured performers. Matthew Maloy, Harry Simpson, and Alexandria Grable play the three children Jem, Dill, and Scout.
Back to our Oklahoma librarian: The young woman who stood her ground and insisted that this important work remain part of a school library was this writer’s mother. Support the committed librarians and teachers who have brought so many difficult classics to students through the years, and come to see “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Curtain is at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Purchase tickets through the Pollard Box Office at (405) 282-2800 or online at www.thepollard.org. Special online only ticket prices are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. A Student Rush ticket price of $10.00 is available for each performance. Students must present their Student IDs and cash at the Box Office to take advantage of this special price.
Don’t miss this amazing production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”—an American classic!
As always, Reduxion Theatre Company offers a little something for everyone with their newest production, “Love’s Labour’s Lost”! One of Shakespeare’s lesser known comedies, Erin Woods (Director, Managing Director) sets the production in 1953 Spain, drawing inspiration from the public’s fascination with royals and other celebrity figures. The live music directed by Kristin Marie Stang with dance scenes choreographed by Susan Riley and fight scenes choreographed by Tyler Woods keep the pace lively through what is one of Shakespeare’s longer comedies. Costume Designer Catherine Pitt and Assistant Sarah Larson help the audience identify a large cast of characters at a glance, with help from Lighting Designer Ciera Terry.
The story follows the naive King Ferdinand (Sam Bearer) as he tries to navigate his duties by eschewing distraction in the form of food, women and sleep from himself and his court. The foil comes in the form of the Princess of France (Claire Powers) and her attendants, who manage to divert the King and his court but also send everyone on their way in the end. While the romance between Ferdinand and the Princess is seems the most important, what goes on between Rosaline (Holly McNatt) and Berowne (Mitchell Reid) is much more interesting. Where the King is simply misguided, Berowne is dangerous– playing with Rosaline’s affections from the beginning. The other four principles (Longaville, Dumaine, Maria, and Katherine) are expertly matched and hilariously played by Ian S. Clinton, Jeffrey Burleson, Susan Riley, and Catherine Pitt respectively.
The story is filled out by a cast of supporting characters who further demonstrate Shakespeare’s penchant for the ridiculous. Charlie Monnot’s Boyet, one of the Princess’s attendants, always has a cutting observation. The plot turns on a comedy of errors involving Berowne, photographer Costard (Burleson), aspiring model Jaquenetta (Riley), Don Adriano de Armado played by Timothy Berg, and Moth played by Jessa Schinske. A misdelivered letter and a wealth of hiding places show Ferdinand and his court the error of their ways and misadventures begin anew as the men attempt to court their chosen ladies.
The show is produced hilariously, though a little slow at times. Woods does justice to the full range of Shakespeare’s themes, portraying the respect for the good in human nature with the same eclat and enthusiasm as the dirty jokes. The ensemble cast has terrific chemistry, with some really outstanding comedic performances. It’s a great date night show (and they offer a cute couple’s package!) or an afternoon of family fun. It’s also worth noting that as the show’s run ends at the Broadway Theatre they take their show on the road, performing the full show during their Metropolitan Library System tour.
The show runs at the Broadway Theatre through March 2nd, with 8 PM shows Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and 2 PM matinees on February 17th and 24th. More information about the Reduxion Theatre company’s current season and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” can be found here, and tickets can be purchased here. The Broadway Theater is at 1613 N Broadway Ave. and can be reached at 405.651.3191. Enjoy the show!
By Anna Holloway
“Some Enchanted Evening” at Lyric Theatre offers five strong, young voices and two brilliant pianists offering many favorite songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musicals.
The songs in Act I are designed as dialogs and interactions, and in Act II as reflections and soliloquies. They require strong singers, two men and three women, each of whom must be able to really “sell” a song.
In the Lyric’s performance, Jamie Buxton as “Nellie,” Dallas Lish as “Billy,” Heather Geery as “Anna,” Ethan Spell as “Will,” and Melissa Griffith as “Julie” gave us that experience.
The show is staged to open at a rehearsal, with a stage manager and crew moving things around as the singers gather in street clothes and take us through the first few songs. This comfortable and relaxed opening allows us to get into the music without the burden of formal expectations. At the end of this first section, each performance features a short visit with a different performer from Lyric Theatre’s fifty-year history. In addition to allowing the Oklahoma City audience to revisit some of the theatre’s past, this little cameo allows the cast to change into formal attire for the rest of the show, bringing us the high production values we have come to expect from Lyric.
Rodgers, whose music often explores the lower end of a vocal range, can be a real challenge for tenors. Lish, who has a strong dark tenor, still had to use all the technique at his command to handle the Jud Fry soliloquy, “Lonely Room” from “Oklahoma,” which he did very well.
Spell, a slightly lighter tenor voice, gave us a soaring rendition of “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” and a charming “Everything’s Up to Date…” from “Oklahoma.”
The women were, rather stereotypically, blonde, brunette, and redhead. Griffith, a classically trained soprano with a lovely voice, adapted beautifully to the Broadway technique that Rodgers demands, and delivered all of her numbers flawlessly. Geery, the brunette, gave us gutsy and effective versions of “I Cain’t Say No” and “Love Look Away,” and Buxton carried us away with “Cockeyed Optimist.”
These are only a few of the high points. There is lovely comic byplay among the actors in several places, as songs are linked to one another in little “scenes” on stage. Three strong medleys, involving the whole company, also give us some glorious harmonies.
The technical aspects of theatre, when done right, are never apparent to the audience and so are often under appreciated. “Some Enchanted Evening” includes two very talented pianists who are fully present and almost invisible in their musical skill, Mary Brozina and Brian Hamilton (who also serves as Music Director for the production). In the usually unseen position of production stage manager, Julie Meyer ran the show flawlessly.
“Some Enchanted Evening” celebrates Lyric Theatre’s 50th Anniversary year and offers a lovely evening of golden age musical theatre. Take the time to enjoy this tribute to American class musical theatre, and to a great local theatre’s fifty years of excellence.
Lyric on the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th street, Tues-Thurs at 7:30, Fri-Sat at 8:00, and Sat-Sun at 2:00 through February 16. Check www.lyrictheatreokc.com for ticket information and a list of the special guest cameos scheduled.
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
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is well known to everyone and touches every person in a privately unique way. Stephen P. Scott’s adaptation “A Territorial Christmas Carol” reaches out specifically to residents of Central Oklahoma and has become a tradition for the Pollard Theatre. The show sets the story in Oklahoma Territory just after the land run over a century ago. In this past century, Oklahomans have seen many privations from the hardships of settling an area overnight to the cycles of drought and flood, and wind. It is especially heartwarming to see how our forefathers overcome the sufferings of the prairie with faith and generosity.
W. Jerome Stevenson’s direction makes “A Territorial Christmas Carol” a new and exciting show every year. This year the production adds some new faces and expands on favorite characters with a little more humor than previous years. Perhaps that humor is exactly what is needed to face the future, as the settlers required humor in their day.
James Ong is Ebenezer Scrooge once again, and this year he presents an even more delightful Scrooge—first ridiculous in his miserliness and second, joyous in his transformation. James Hughes is also back as Bob Cratchit, Ben Moody and Mr. Fezziwig, although the Mrs. is now Megan Montgomery. They have an excellent rapport as if Montgomery has been playing the role for as many years as Hughes. Timothy Stewart is Dickens and Topper and once again excites us as a storyteller. In addition to directing, W. Jerome Stevenson is the frightening Jacob Marley as well as a Civil War Veteran and the settler, John Kettle. Trinity Goodwin is the beautiful Ghost of Christmas Past as well as Caroline and others and exhibits a great component to the cast. Emily Frances Brown is the lovely niece as well as Belle, the lost love, and she stands up well in her performances in her second year with the show. Gwendolyn Evans is also in her second year, and this year her Widow Brown nearly steals the show!
New faces include Joshua McGowan as Scrooge’s nephew, the youthful apprentice Scrooge and the undertaker. Also new is Jared Blount as Hamilton Moore, the Ghost of Christmas Present and other cameos including the pawnbroker. These two are hilarious in the scene at the Pawnbrokers with Widow Brown and others almost to the point of caricature. The humor is a nice offset to the tragedy that may unfold if Scrooge doesn’t wake up and ‘come to the party’ of life.
The children come in two casts so as not to overload young school children with excessive rehearsals. This also gives a great opportunity for more young actors to gain experience. The cast A Tiny Tim Cratchit is Callen Stewart and he is a very refreshing Tiny Tim. Cast B is graced with Gracie Lugo in the role. William Moody and Peter Cratchit is Matt Maloy from Cast A and, Kaleb Brussett carries the role from Cast B. Both children show a great deal of promise. The remaining cast members from Cast A and B are far too numerous to list, however they all demonstrate a great deal of talent and dedication under Stevenson’s guidance. The casts alternate so patrons who wish to see a particular young person should inquire at the box office to make sure they are reserving the right night.
“A Territorial Christmas Carol: An Oklahoma Tradition” plays at the Pollard through December 23, 2012 with Sunday 2:00pm matinee performances as well as Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00pm. Visit www.thepollard.org or call 405-282-2800 and reserve tickets early to ensure not missing this great tradition! The Pollard Theatre is located in downtown Guthrie at 120 West Harrison Avenue.
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 Jewel Box Theatre continues the excellent tradition of introducing new playwrights to the scene with premiere performances. This year’s choice is “Excavation” by Rob Barron. Barron is an assistant professor of theatre at City College in New York where he teaches acting, directing and playwriting. He has written and directed several plays and “Excavation” is the first of his plays directed by another. Linda McDonald directs this world premiere in Oklahoma for the Jewel Box Theatre.
“Excavation” tells two stories of dinosaur lovers separated by two centuries and an ocean. Josh Peterson is a recent widower working in security at the Natural History Museum in New York City. His young son, Kenny is still grieving over the loss of his mother and immerses himself in the book about the fossil hunter, Mary Anning. The modern setting is fictional, but Mary Anning is a historical figure.
Mary Anning was born in 1799 and was known as a fossil collector, dealer and paleontologist due to the important finds she made in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis in Dorset where she lived. She has been largely overlooked in the scientific community due to her lack of formal education, and also because women were not recognized in the scientific community in the early 19th century. Mary was finally recognized for her contributions by the Royal Society in 2010 as one of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science. Mary Anning was also noted in her community for the unusual circumstances surrounding a sudden lighting storm during an equestrian show. A neighbor, Elizabeth Haskings, was holding the child Mary when lightning struck killing three women including Haskings. Mary’s survival was miraculous, and interestingly, she blossomed from a sickly toddler to a lively, curious and intelligent girl. She was often referred to as ‘lightning girl’ by those in the community where she searched for fossils to sell as a way of supporting her family.
“Excavation” intertwines her history with the fictional story of Josh and Kenny Peterson as they struggle to survive in a modern world with little support for a suddenly grieving father and son. Barron weaves the two stories together as the characters appear simultaneously and seem to interact on a mental level. It is the dedication of Mary Anning that gives the young boy hope.
Director McDonald uses a simple set that suggests that classical structure of a museum as well as the cliffs and pits of Dorset. The characters are well established with very good performances among the principles as well as versatile multiple cameo parts in the cast.
Mary Anning is played by A’Mari Rocheleau and her performance is excellent. Rocheleau establishes the slight abrasiveness that intelligent women often had to develop during this period yet she tempers Mary Anning’s personality with sensitivity and joy in her work. The role of Josh Peterson is wonderfully done by Chris Briscoe, harried, hapless and hopelessly confused about what needs to be done for his son, Kenny. Kenny is played by Nathan Ferguson and he does an exceptional job of portraying autism which can be devastating even in a mild form. David Burkhart, John Q. Wilson, Todd Murray, Curt Rose and CheyAnne Stickler round out this very competent cast with distinctive characterizations.
“Excavation” shows at the Jewel Box Theatre through December 9, 2012. Tickets are available at the box office by phone Tuesday through Friday afternoons at 405-521-1786. Also, tickets may be purchased on line at www.jewelboxtheatre.org. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at the First Christian Church at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City. “Excavation” is a wonderful choice for families, especially those with exceptional children, and what child is not, after all, exceptional?
The Poteet Theatre is transporting Oklahoma City Audiences once again with their latest production – “The Wizard of Oz” by the beloved L. Frank Baum. Shawna Linck directs the musical adaptation by Frank Gabrielson using the lyrics from the movie score by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg.
“The Wizard of Oz” opens Friday, November 16 and runs through Sunday December 9 with performances at 8 pm and matinee performances at 3 pm. Call 405—023 or visit www.poteettheatre.com for ticket information and delight in Dorothy’s adventures with the Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion and Toto as they go ‘off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!”
History intertwines with fiction when the Jewel Box Theatre 2012 original play winner, EXCAVATION, opens November 15th at 3700 N. Walker, for its world premiere.
Twelve-year-old Mary Anning is strolling along the beach in 1811 Lyme Regis, England, when she uncovers a fossil so big the world is stunned. Young Kenny lives in present-day New York City, and is grieving for the loss of his mother, with whom he shared a love of dinosaurs. Since Kenny has not spoken since her death, it is up to the father to care for his son.
Author Rob Barron beautifully weaves the past and present together as Anning visits Kenny to share her love of life and excavation. That visit will change their lives in a journey for both hearts.
EXCAVATION plays Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 PM, and Sunday at 2:30 PM, through December 9th.
Call 521-1786 weekday afternoons for reservations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Barron is an assistant professor of theatre at City College of New York, where he teaches classes in acting, directing, and playwriting. His professional associations are with such prestigious organizations as the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, The Actors Studio, Soho Repertory Theatre, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Barron has an extensive list of directorial credits, including The Phantom of the Opera, A Christmas Carol, Les Miserables, Little Women, Romeo and Juliet, Treasure Island, and Around the World in 80 Days.
Although he enjoys his work as a director and playwright, Barron has a great passion for teaching because he feels it is about helping others on their road to discovery.
His play, EXCAVATION, came from his interest in dinosaurs, which he shares with his own son, and will be the first of his shows that Barron has not directed himself.
Rob is expected to come from New York to see the world premiere of his play at the Jewel Box. For all nine of the theatre’s world premieres, the author has attended a production of their show! How lucky we are!
And I do mean latest. Just about everyone dies. Walking into the theater, the only thing I knew about Richard III was that it is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Tyler Woods directs, bringing the production from 15th century Wars of the Roses to the 20th century, between World Wars I and II, likening the rise of Richard III to Hitler’s. Woods further modernizes Shakespeare’s classic with intermittent musical numbers (closing with an a cappella version of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android!). Altogether, it is well paced and produced, though I feel a few of the more surreal touches may be a bit ambitious for an otherwise fairly straightforward adaptation.
Catherine Pitt (Production Stage Manager and Properties Design) and Hanna Matter (Assistant Stage Manager) manage to effectively portray every scene with minimal equipment, everything moved on and off stage by cast members between scenes. Lloyd Cracknell (Costume Design) and Amy Kercher (Costume Assistant) seem to have a lot of fun dressing the cast in everything from flapper-esque dresses to military uniforms, and the detachable Nazi armbands are an interesting touch. Music Directors Suzanne Stanley and Andrew Rathgeber definitely make some bold choices, not least being the French number that dances King Edward IV out of this life (choreographed by Jessa Schinske and Sam Bearer).
Rex Daugherty stars as Richard III, and does a great job. Daugherty is in nearly every scene, and his huge energy and obvious love for the theatre goes a long way toward making Shakespeare more accessible to the audience. Kris Schinske is Queen Elizabeth, and gives you a sense of what the emotional toll must have been for a woman whose ambition was rivaled only by her love for her family. Cristela Carrizales plays several characters (Queen Margaret, Lord Mayor of London, etc.) well, but truly shines when she leads the cast in song. Rathgeber (as Duke of Buckingham) and Stanley (Lady Anne, Duke of York, etc.) both exhibit similar strengths. Jennifer Casteel plays the Duchess of York, and though she’s given relatively few lines, she makes them count. Oliver Archibald is awesome as James Tyrell. Bearer plays King Edward IV and gives you the sense that he really wants the best for his family and England. Jeremy Lister plays several characters, definitely having the most fun as Cardinal Bourchier. Sue Ellen Reiman is great as Lady Hastings (though I was a bit confused by the character in general, as she wears a suit and both Lady and Lord Hastings are often referenced). Jessa Schinske plays several roles, but her Prince Edward is definitely my favorite.
Reduxion Theatre Company continues the work professed in their mission statement, “To professionally produce both classical and contemporary theatre, enriching Oklahoma’s cultural, educational and economic climate, attracting artists and audiences from around the world”. Their fifth season, “Reduxion Revolution,” works to stretch Oklahoma’s cultural imagination with offerings not typically accessible to local audiences. Richard III runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through November 25th at the Broadway Theater at 8PM. Tickets and more information can be found online at Reduxion Theatre Company.