POSTED ON MARCH 10, 2010:
Kicks and Giggles
Annual Tulsa Gridiron lets the good -- and bad -- times roll
Laughing Gas. The 77th year of Tulsa Gridiron takes on the theme of “Dewey Dare? Or, Laughter is the Best Public Option” at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center March 12 and 13.
Perhaps one of my favorite annual events is Tulsa Gridiron, a roasting revue of the year's local and national political happenings.
A team of writers, led by Tulsa World reporter Randy Krehbiel, spends all year rewriting the lyrics of popular songs so that they reflect the year's happenings -- in the most mocking, sarcastic tone possible.
"Gridiron" refers to a griddle, where public figures, pop-culture icons and others are grilled publicly.
Then, a team of singers, consisting of seasoned performers, local dignitaries and plain ol' folks like you and me, performs the tunes in two riotous hours of hilarity for the purpose of raising money for journalism scholarships.
For the past three years, I've been in attendance for the event, laughing so hard my whole body aches by the time I leave. This year, I decided to participate.
I threw a couple of songs in the pool -- the one I'm most proud of about Sarah Palin's Fox News gig set to Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind" -- but they didn't make it to the show. That is OK, considering about 16 submitted 100 or so songs for this show, and only 40 made the cut. And I'm telling you, those 40 are pretty freakin' hilarious.
I know this because I've attended a few of the rehearsals, never with the intention of being on stage but because I hoped to help out somewhere behind the black curtain.
(Lest you think I have some sort of limelight phobia, let me assure you, while I adore attention and being on stage -- my high school theatre company dubbed me "Diva" -- I'm not being humble when I say I can't sing. It really is that bad.)
Folks, this might be the best year yet for the Tulsa Gridiron. And I might not be the authority on this, considering this is only the fourth show of 77 I've seen, but I'm telling you -- it's gonna be good.
Nothing is ever off limits when it comes to material for Gridiron, this year titled "Dewey Dare? Or, Laughter is the Best Public Option."
The show features numbers, sung by the likes of Pam Van Dyke Crosby, Olivia Duhon, Bob Hendrick, Virginia Harrison, Kathleen Kennedy, Kathy LaFortune, Kerry Malone, Natasha Ball, Sharon King-Davis, Darell Christopher, John Cory and Rebecca Marks Jimerson, poking fun at Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Tulsa's county commissioners, Tiger Woods, Jon and Kate Gosselin, health care reform, the budget crises and I-244 construction.
Locally famed jazz diva and winner of Urban Tulsa Weekly's Absolute Best Music award in the female vocalist category Rebecca Ungerman directs. (And she may or may not be singing a number in drag. You'll have to watch and find out.)
Ungerman has called Tulsa Gridiron the city's best-kept secret -- but not in a good way. She hopes, as does the rest of the cast and crew, year 77 for the show will be the biggest and best yet, with folks cramming themselves into the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Liddy Doenges Theatre, 110 W. Second St., to see Olivia Duhon and Meredith Lee Wegner nearly scratch each other's eyes out in "Battle of the Car Dealer Blondes."
Or Natasha Ball dressed as Sarah Palin, complete with librarian glasses, shotgun and moose head (OK, maybe not the moose head).
Or all the ladies in the cast dressed in goth garb paying homage to the vampire craze.
Or, the hilarious three tunes that comprise the "Public Option Medley."
You get the idea.
Tickets to the show are only $25, with table seating for $50 and discounts for city employees ("The Hardship Special"). And, as stated, proceeds go toward scholarships for journalism students. Being a former journalism student myself, I can attest to how desperately those kids need your money.
In a Foreign Land
Many are familiar with Mark Harelik's play The Immigrant, which tells the story of his grandfather's journey to America as an Eastern European Jew in 1909. American Theatre Company last performed the play in 1990.
ATC is performing The Immigrant again, but it's not the play you're thinking. Based on Harelik's story, The Immigrant you'll see at the Tulsa PAC this weekend is a musical, featuring music and lyrics by Steve Alper and Sarah Knapp.
The story follows closely to the original: Haskell Harelik, speaking no English, arrives in Galveston, Texas. He heads north, finally reaching the rural town of Hamilton, where he meets Hamilton and Ima Perry.
A devout Christian woman, Ima convinces her husband, the town's banker, to give Haskell a room for the night. When she learns he is Jewish, though, she briefly has second thoughts.
Six weeks later, Haskell is still staying with the Perrys, and shortly thereafter his wife comes to stay as well. The Hareliks make Hamilton their home, raise a family and maintain an unlikely, yet unwavering, bond with the Perrys.
ATC's cast includes John Knippers, Janet Rutland, Anna Neal and D'Mitri Sobol. Robert Walters directs. The show opened last weekend and continues March 10-13 at 8pm in the John H. Williams Theatre of the Tulsa PAC. Tickets are $24-$30.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A29473