It happens every year. There's a boatload of musical and theatrical offerings through the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust's annual SummerStage event -- a weeks-long gala of entertainment, fun, music, art, dance, and just plain cooler-than-being-outside stuff to do.
With the PAC Trust's release of SummerStage 2013's line-up, there are a few new faces, and a few we all expect to see from year to year. Still, there's something to be enjoyed by everyone
There are those companies and performers who anchor SummerStage from year to year, and 2013 is no different. Light Opera Oklahoma presents three shows -- as is Eric Gibson and company's wont -- including Hello, Dolly!, which opens June 14 for eight shows. The company also will present two performances of Side by Side by Sondheim, beginning June 16, and the very fun The Drowsy Chaperone, whose five shows kick off June 21. All of the LOOK shows are in the John H. Williams Theater, and tickets run $32.
Theatre Pops continues its SummerStage run with Old Red on the Head/Jesus for the Defense, running in the Liddy Doenges Theater June 13-15 at 8pm and June 16 at 2pm. This pair of plays comes from R. Dobie Langenkamp, a local playwright with a colorful history, according to director Randy Whalen.
"Dobie was born here in the '30s," Whalen said. "He went to Stanford and graduated magna cum laude. Then he went to law school and worked in the Carter and Clinton administrations. He's been a law professor, a lawyer, an oil man, all kinds of things. In his later years, he's decided he wants to write some plays." This pair of plays seems like a fun night of theater.
"It's like Our Town if it was directed by Quentin Tarantino," Whalen said of Jesus for the Defense. "It's a cool little story." Old Red on the Head tells the story of a couple of estranged navy buddies, exploring the nature and resilience of friendship.
This year, the company also gives us Tinkerbell's Greatest Hits July 26 at 8pm in the Norman Theater.
Both TP shows are $15.
And then there's Rebecca Ungerman. Tulsa's own queen of jazz and soul and all sorts of other stuff brings to SummerStage her very own Spinning Plates Productions -- more than just the cabarets we might expect from a singer. While she will present her own Rebecca Ungerman in Queen Cleofis Comes Home on July 15 in the Norman Theater, there's more. Cleofis highlights the songs of the titular jazz songstress, who won several Best New Jazz Artist awards around the world in 1970.
Audience members will hear Ungerman power through tunes from such varied artists as ELO, Elton John, and Fountains of Wayne.
That same night, Spinning Plates will also spin up Why Cyn Sings Jazz, the first show from Oklahoma City native Cynthia Simmons, as well. Both Spinning Plates cabarets are $25.
And in the wake of her 2012 success The Unwitting Wife, Ungerman's original musical she took on the road to Israel's Tiberias International Theater Festival, Ungerman will direct 84 Charing Cross Road, showing June 27 at 2pm and 8pm in the Doenges. Tickets for the play are $20.
A few newcomers -- and some who just don't perform every single year -- include crooner Pam Van Dyke Crosby, Sand Springs Community Theatre, and theatrical bigwig Theatre Tulsa.
While Theatre Tulsa has not been a huge presence in SummerStage in recent years, TT president Sara Phoenix hopes that will change.
"Theatre Tulsa used to be one of the anchors of SummerStage," she said. "I hope this is the first step in returning to those roots."
Theatre Tulsa presents Children's Letters to God July 19-20 at 7:30pm and July 20-21 at 2pm in the Doenges.
"It's a musical, and it's based on a book by the same name," said Phoenix. "It was compiled of actual letters that kids of a variety of ages had written to God. You know, 'Hey, God, why are things like this?' It's a really fun, light musical, and it's great for adults and kids."
Tammy Slack serves as music director, and tickets for this one are $16.
Sand Springs Community Theatre uses its nomadic nature to take up residence in the Doenges for the first time in SummerStage, presenting The Boys Next Door June 21-22 at 8pm. This one goes for $12.
After taking a year off of SummerStage, The Playhouse Tulsa returns, presenting its own original adaptation of Little Women on July 12-13 at 7:30pm and July 13-14 at 2pm in the Williams.
"Cody Daigle is our resident playwright," said Courtneay Sanders, co-artistic director of PH. "He has taken the book and adapted it for the stage exclusively for us."
While there are several versions of the Louisa May Alcott novel, Sanders said Daigle's version brings something new.
"One of the great things about having a resident playwright is that he gets to explore the voice of the company," she said.
Daigle wrote for PH in the past, and it was very well-received, so Sanders and company are excited about revisiting his writing.
"He's a phenomenal writer," Sanders said. "This was something he and I had talked about exploring, and SummerStage seemed like a good place to see that come about."
Little Women tickets are $24.
There's always a comedic entry or two in SummerStage, and this year is no different as comic Cheril Vendetti -- who has literally performed all across the country -- presents The Cheril Vendetti Experience. A self-styled coarse comedienne, Vendetti presents a one-woman show. Tickets are $15 for her performance in the Norman on June 14 at 8pm.
A double-bill of sorts rounds out the newbies with a cabaret from Crosby and Cindy Cain, as the pair presents Two of a Kind in the Norman on June 21 at 8pm. Tickets are $20, and these tickets will go quickly.
There are always a few SummerStage acts that sometimes fly under the radar, or that return for a second-straight year -- not quite SummerStage regulars, but certainly offerings of value and that will most certainly reward audiences. Perhaps chief among those is Steve Lancaster.
He doesn't present his family-friendly and infectiously fun show every SummerStage, but when he does, it's... um... magic. Don't miss Steve Lancaster's Family Magic Show June 16 at 2pm in the Norman. $30.
Jeremy Stevens returns with a second incarnation of his SummerStage hit from last year in Wrong Way Broadway 2: Even Wronger, presenting twisted, purposely-misinterpreted Broadway classics. By all accounts, it was comedy gold last year, and come on -- when you find something that works... Wrong Way bows June 22 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm in the Norman and also runs the next day. $25.
SummerStage wouldn't be complete without a night or two of songs from one of Tulsa's very finest, the lovely and talented Janet Rutland. A Song is Born consists of two nights of beautiful music from a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice. Rutland's ninth SumemrStage show consists of music from living songwriters. If Bacharach kicks before July, Rutland may have to punt, so here's to your health, Burt. A Song is Born runs July 11-12 at 7:30pm in the Norman, and tickets are $15. Boys and girls, that's a bargain at twice the price.
Dance is well-represented this year, as well, including Dhadkan, from Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater -- July 12-13 at 7:30pm in the Doenges; tickets are $14 -- Combined Minds from the always-intriguing Portico Dans Theatre on July 19-20 at 8 pm and July 21 at 2pm Williams Theater ($20) -- and Moksha, presented by Sanskriti School of Dance. This eastern-themed evening takes place July 27 at 7 pm in the Williams Theater, and tickets are $12.
Late in the seven-week festival come three distinctly different acts.
God of fiddle Shelby Eicher, along with a pair of his sons and a guy completely unrelated to the trio, presents "Mischievous Swing," two raucous nights of tunes, July 13 at 7:30pm and July 14 at 2pm in the Norman. Tickets are $17.
The coolest harp-and-viola duo of all time makes an appearance July 14 at 4pm in the Doenges, and tickets to the Appassionata Duo are $15. You can't see them for that cheap anywhere else, and you'd be a fool to miss it.
Finally, the very talented Vanessa Adams-Harris presents Native Women's Voices: Sofkee for the Soul, a show concerned with Native women and how they are expressing themselves in modern society. Adams-Harris bows July 18-20 at 7:30pm and July 21 at 2:30pm in the Norman, and tickets are $10.
Tickets for every SummerStage show are now available at 918-596-7111 and at tulsapac.com, and while there will be walk-up, day-of ticketing at the Second Street box office, for a lot of these shows, you won't want to wait that long.
You could do worse things for yourself than try to catch every single show. Lots of returning acts should offer comfort to summer theatergoers, but be sure and catch something new, as well.
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