POSTED ON JUNE 8, 2011:
'Shake' a Leg
Outdoor Shakespeare continues downtown with theater even non-thespians can enjoy
For the third weekend in a row, audiences are invited to brave the sweltering summer heat for a cool (read: hip; not chilly) treat: Shakespeare performed outdoors.
For the past two weekends, American Theatre Co. has offered a production of The Taming of the Shrew on the lawn at Philbrook Museum of Art. This weekend, the Shakedown in T-Town Shakespeare Festival is presenting As You Like It at the H.A. Chapman Centennial Park, at Sixth Street and Boston Avenue downtown.
In its second year (Justin McKean organized it last year under the name "Tulsa Shakespeare Festival"), the festival has already outgrown 2010's iteration. For starters, it's more festival-like. Rather than being a one-time performance, like last year's presentation of Romeo and Juliet was, the play will be performed both Friday, June 10, and Saturday, June 11, beginning at 7:30pm.
On Saturday, an arts and crafts fair, as well as opening performances by Portico Dans Theatre and Light Opera Oklahoma, will precede the play. Food and beverage vendors will also be on hand.
The festival's organizers, Brigid Vance and Jenny Guy, are no strangers to the Shakespeare in the Park concept.
"I was 7 the first year I (performed with Shakespeare in the Park)," Vance, the festival's managing director, said, referring to Tulsa Repertory Theatre. "Four years in a row, I was in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's an experience from my childhood that I remember very fondly."
Guy, who's directing and acting in As You Like It, is also a TRT Shakespeare in the Park veteran.
"It's something we're both attached to and really enjoyed," Vance said.
So when Justin McKean bowed out of organizing this year's festival, Vance and Guy quickly stepped in to take over.
The pair moved the festival from August to June, added new elements and chose a play to produce.
As You Like It is a comedy set in the Forest of Arden that begins with hilarity and ends with multiple nuptials.
"We decided As You Like It would be fun because it's really funny and engaging," Vance said. "It's a funny show, and it's accessible. It's a show you can come watch and, even if you don't know about Shakespeare, understand it.
"It's one of the few where nobody dies," she said. "Nobody even fakes dying."
Which makes the play and festival both family-friendly.
"Centennial Park is beautiful, and it really works with the show we're doing," Vance said. "It's a nice, relaxed environment for Shakespeare. I would encourage people who don't know Shakespeare or who don't like Shakespeare to come out and be exposed to it in a non-threatening way."
And for those who attended last year and worry about a repeat of the technical difficulties that delayed Romeo and Juliet for over an hour, Vance assures there will be no such mishaps.
"Tech is coming in earlier to make sure the sound and lighting work," she said. "We won't be playing with things the day of the show."
The park will be open at 6pm Friday evening, and beverage (alcoholic and non) and food vendors will be on hand. On Saturday, the festival begins at noon, and, both nights, the show begins at 7:30pm. Shakedown in T-Town is free and open to the public.
Vance recognizes that the event has grown since last year, and she has high hopes for its future.
"It's something we can build on and hopefully grow into two weekends in the future," she said. "Our ultimate goal is to be a professional theater company with a free festival."
All in a day's work
Celebrity Attractions, the city's Broadway presenter, is bringing 9 to 5: The Musical to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. Second St., June 14-19 for eight performances.
The musical is based on the movie by the same name and features a score and title song by Dolly Parton.
"I couldn't have asked for a better experience on my first Broadway show," Dolly Parton said in a press release. "I've had the privilege of working with an amazing group of people who have become like family to me. I can't wait for this show to hit the road so people across the country can see why I'm so proud of everyone involved."
9 to 5: The Musical is the story of three unlikely female friends who conspire to take control of their company and learn there's nothing they can't do -- even in a man's world.
The musical is about teaming up and taking care of business -- and it's about getting credit and getting even.
Patricia Resnick, co-writer of the film's screenplay, wrote the book for the musical, and Jeff Calhoun choreographed it.
9 to 5: The Musical had its world premiere engagement in Los Angeles at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in September of 2008 and opened on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis Theatre on April 30, 2009.
Showtimes vary, and tickets range from $20-$60 each. They, along with additional information about the performances, are available at tulsapac.com.
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