The 2008-2009 theater season has already started for a few area theaters. If you aren't clued into what's going to be where, it's time to get yourself educated.
Clark Theatre will present William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet starting October 24 at 7:30pm. It will run through November 2. For those unfamiliar with the play (for some reason), it's a tale of "star-crossed lovers" who wind up committing suicide because they think they can't be together when, in fact, they can.
It's less a romance and more a caution against unchecked passion, but most folks remember it for its famous balcony scene: "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?" Because if his name was Tony, it'd be a musical.
Heller Theatre presents Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. This script won both a Tony and a Pulitzer in 2005, and is better known as simply Doubt. Its author changed the title upon its publication.
It's about two figures of a Bronx Catholic school, Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn, fighting for control over the school's first black student, Donald Muller. Father Flynn favors being a close friend of his parishioners while Sister Aloysius rules over them with a stern iron will. When the sisters hear gossip that the priest has been molesting Donald, she confronts Father Flynn with the accusation.
Though sexual misconduct by Catholic priests no longer rules the headlines as it did a few years ago, this play's themes are no less relevant to today's believers.
Doubt opens October 10 at 8pm and runs through October 28.
Evandrake Productions, courtesy of the Nightingale Theater, presents Bertolt Brecht's 1928 musical comedy The Threepenny Opera. Brecht was the most influential modern German playwright. Brecht was famous for challenging theatrical conventions, and, as a parody of another contemporary opera, The Threepenny Opera is no exception.
The protagonist, Macheath, falls in love with and marries Polly Peachum. Her father, displeased by this turn of events, endeavors to have Macheath hanged. Though the chief of police, an old friend of Macheath, stymies the efforts of Polly's father, eventually our hero ends up at the end of a noose. Just in the nick of time, however, a messenger arrives with a pardon from the Queen.
The plot, breezy and shallow, parodies theatrical conventions that survive (somehow) to this day. In addition to scathing satire, Brecht also employed what can be loosely translated as the "estrangement effect," with which he intended to create emotional distance between the audience and the onstage personages. He wanted theatergoers occupied with social problems, not empathizing with imaginary characters.
The Threepenny Opera is a bold choice for any season, and should be a real treat. It opens September 18 at 8pm and runs through September 27.
Theatre Tulsa presents The Children's Hour, Lillian Hellman's 1934 drama about a girls' boarding school, September 26 through October 4.
Two young women, Karen and Martha, own the boarding school, having built it up over the years. A vicious lie, concocted and spread by a spiteful student, about a fictional sexual relationship between the school's two owners, ends in tragedy despite a court battle.
Some controversy forced producers early in the play's life to change the play's title and the nature of the lie. Producers altered the homosexual relationship to a heterosexual one, even though no relationship actually occurs. The play's original text and title were restored in 1961.
At its core, The Children's Hour is a warning against fear based on unreliable information.
Tulsa Ballet presents Don Quixote, an adaptation of the (and I do mean the) classic novel by Cervantes. Don Quixote is a parody of a form of fiction very popular in Cervantes' day, the "knight errant" story. Think Lancelot, but with more heaving breasts and flowery language.
Don Quixote, the titular character, has read nearly one of these "knight errant" stories, and fancies himself quite the expert on saving damsels, fighting evil, and doing other knightly things.
He's not. He's a complete and utter knob. But he had the good fortune to hire a squire, Sancho Panza, who saves his butt at every turn.
It's a remarkable novel, as enduring as it is both hilarious and poignant. With the world-class Tulsa Ballet behind it, it's sure to be one of the must-see performances of the season.
Tulsa Opera, on October 4, 10 and 12, will perform La Boheme. Most people in the younger generations know this opera as the inspiration for Rent. La Boheme, by Puccini, is about young, destitute artists and intellectuals trying to survive both a Parisian winter and tuberculosis. For Larson fans, I'm sorry to report: Mimi does not survive this particular opera. Such is life.
University of Tulsa steps up to the plate with Hamlet. Yes, the one and only. For those unfamiliar with the most Shakespearean of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet describes the moral agony of a young scholar-prince whose father's ghost has ordered him to avenge his murder. The murderer, the ghost reveals, was his own brother, young Hamlet's uncle, who has usurped both the throne and the king's wife.
The last I heard, TU student Wesam Keesh had been cast as Hamlet. I've seen Keesh in a few TU productions, and I'm excited. He's versatile, and has a knack for creating distinctive, yet honest characters. I'm awaiting his Hamlet with bated breath.
In any case, University of Tulsa has produced several successful Shakespearean productions. Now that it's tackling one of the big ones, Tulsa needs to stand up and take notice.
Hamlet will open October 16 and run through October 25.
It looks like a dynamite season all around. Reserve your tickets today, because theater in Tulsa is picking up pace. It would be a shame for you to be left in the dust, having to settle for whatever Hollywood decided you were stupid enough to settle for.
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