POSTED ON JUNE 15, 2011:
Worth a LOOK
An established local theater company finds a new, contemporary direction
Sorry, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan: Light Opera Oklahoma is saying goodbye.
Luckily for Tulsa, LOOK Musical Theatre is saying hello.
This season, Light Opera Oklahoma, founded in 1983 as The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Tulsa to preserve and promote operetta and classic musical comedies through professional performance, is presenting modern musicals under a new name, which better reflects its mission, artistic director Eric Gibson said.
"The company is more musical theater-oriented now," he said. "It's hard for people to believe that an opera company does My Fair Lady."
In the past, LOOK presented modern musicals and classic Gilbert and Sullivan every summer in its LOOK festival, but this year, the company chose three shows that were all written after 1950. The two contemporary shows it produced last season -- The Boyfriend and Kiss Me Kate -- were wildly popular, prompting company leaders to consider increasing the number of contemporary shows it produces.
On the bill this year are Evita, Trouble in Tahiti and The Light in the Piazza.
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita features some of the biggest hit songs ever written, including Don't Cry for Me Argentina, On This Night of a Thousand Stars, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, and Oh What a Circus. The story follows the life of Argentina's infamous Eva Peron. It begins in 1934 and follows the young girl from her small hometown to Buenos Aires, where she uses her feminine power to climb the ladder of success, first as a model, then as an actress, and finally as the wife of General Juan Peron. When Peron is elected president, Eva becomes the most powerful woman in South America. At the end of her life, she questions whether or not she took the right path.
Gibson realizes that many people's experience with Evita is limited to the 1996 film adaptation starring Madonna. But he hopes folks with put that out of their heads when they arrive at the theater.
"The stage version of this piece is much better," he said. "It's a formulaic musical, meaning when Peron is assuming power, when he rises to power, they play a game of musical chairs on stage. That's how Peron's ascension through the ranks is represented. In the movie, they just blew up every building they could. They made it literal. This way is more secretive, more fun."
Evita stages in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Williams Theatre, 110 E. Second St., Saturday-Sunday June 18-19 and 24-25 and July 1, 6-7 and 9.
Leonard Bernstein's one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti unfolds as a bittersweet satire on a troubled marriage and the American dream. Written in 1952 between his biggest Broadway successes -- On the Town, Candide and West Side Story -- the score is a combination of Broadway, jazz and traditional opera sung in English. The story is set in an affluent, nameless American suburb, and follows a day in the life of Dinah, who is disenchanted with her husband, Sam, who is more interested in his career and hobbies than in his family. A "Greek chorus" of suburbanites provides swing, radio advertising, and operatic trios.
The show will be presented in two fashions -- in a modern 2011 setting, and the original 1950s setting.
"We're keeping the play the same, but it's all in the interpretation of the lines," Gibson said. "Lots of lines in plays have double entendres anyway."
The 1950s version of the musical is a little bit harder on the patron of the family, Gibson said. He works, is distant from his family, and most of the marital problems fall on his shoulders. In the modern version, both parents work, and both parents share the blame for the marital strife.
"I think the piece might read as a little bit depressing in the normal version," Gibson said. "I think it's about a couple in trouble, but when you reverse the roles, it brings more humor out in the play. It's a different take. We do a lot of that here: re-envision scripts."
Trouble in Tahiti plays at the PAC's Charles E. Norman Theatre Sunday, June 19; Tuesday-Wednesday, June 21-22 and 26 and July 3 and 5.
Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza visits Italy in the summer of 1953, where the well-heeled Margaret Johnson is settling into an Italian vacation with her charmingly naive daughter, Clara. While sightseeing, Clara loses her hat in a sudden gust of wind. As if guided by coincidence and fate, the hat lands at the feet of a handsome young Florentine, Fabrizio Naccarelli, who returns it to Clara. This brief episode begins an intense romance between Clara and Fabrizio. As their love affair unfolds, a family secret is revealed. Based on Elizabeth Spencer's novella and opened on Broadway in 2005, The Light in the Piazza is the most modern piece LOOK has ever produced. Gibson said the music is what inspired him to produce the show.
"It is just absolutely stunning," he said. "It is chock full of beautiful tunes, beautiful arias and songs."
LOOK performs The Light in the Piazza July 2-3, 8 and 10.
Evening performances begin at 8pm and matinees at 2pm, and showtimes are available at tulsapac.com. Tickets, which cost $29 or $32 each, are also available online. Season tickets, priced at $80, as well as additional information about the season and company, are available at looktheatre.org.
All in a day's work
Celebrity Attractions, the city's Broadway presenter, is bringing 9 to 5: The Musical to the Tulsa PAC's Chapman Music Hall June 16-19.
The musical is based on the movie by the same name and features a score and title song by Dolly Parton.
The show centers on 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.
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.
Circle of friends
June 16-18 at 8pm and June 19 at 2pm, Theatre Pops presents Loose Knit. Once a week in the heart of New York City, five women gather to knit. As the sweaters pile up, their lives fall apart. Liz is having an affair with her sister's Lily's husband; Gina's lost her job; Paula is having an identity crisis; and Margie just wants a date.
Into their lives steps Miles, a cool businessman who made his first million before he was 30 and is now looking for a wife. On a series of hilarious blind dates in a sushi restaurant, Miles and the women go head-to-head in an attempt to define what it is men and women want these days.
The show plays in the Tulsa PAC's Charles E. Norman Theatre as part of the annual SummerStage festival. Tickets are $15 and available at the PAC's website.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A40046