POSTED ON JUNE 27, 2012:
From Ashes to Life
SummerStage and Native American art among a week of artistic plenty
"I want Tulsans to know that Theatre Tulsa has some fantastic momentum. TT is expanding and it's an extremely exciting time to be involved," said Sara Phoenix, new Board President of Theatre Tulsa.
Her first order of business was to clean sweep the company artistically, organizationally and financially to create a plan to grow the company at the 90-day, one-year and three-year mark. Phoenix also brought eight professionals, known as the Executive Committee, each an expert in their given field, to help steer the upward momentum for Theatre Tulsa.
"The new board wants to build bridges and create opportunities for inclusion and partnerships," Phoenix said, "and there are immediate opportunities for anyone in Tulsa who wants to be involved, whether on the stage, behind the scenes or as a volunteer."
Phoenix also wants the public to know that they are always welcome to help out with their individual talents.
"Our mission is to create and promote quality theatrical experiences and education that meet the needs of the Tulsa area," she said. "As we head down a new and exciting path toward Theatre Tulsa's centennial, we encourage anyone who wants to be a part of this invigorating movement to come and play with us."
Theatre Tulsa opens it's 90th Season with the crowd-pleasing The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, presented August 31-Sept 8.
The rest of the season includes Hamlet, which will be a joint venture with Odeum Theatre Company in late October and early November; Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Album, starring veteran actor Tom Berenson in mid-January 2013; Oliver! is the March musical and the season is rounded out by the loveable romp BoeingBoeing in May 2013.
"We are still working on finalizing the details," Phoenix said, "but if you 'like' Theatre Tulsa on Facebook or check in at our website, you will see those opportunities as they pop up. It's going to be a great year."
Classics with a Contemporary Twist
We selected "classic" productions for the 2012-2013 Playhouse season, but you won't see a Shakespeare or what's considered a "theatre classic" in the bunch!" said Playhouse associate artistic director Courtneay Sanders
From ghost stories to a Christmas show everyone can love, to a tale based on one of Aesop's fables, the Playhouse Theatre group is making a huge splash. There's even a rock-and-roll musical Bible story.
One might expect, at least, something Biblical from a group of mostly ORU students and staff, but the expectation of a professional theater experience has also been synonymous with the name Playhouse.
"Chris Crawford will again be directing, and you know he'll have some tricks up his sleeve," Sanders said. "As far as the actors, we'll be welcoming new faces, but also bringing back a few who originally appeared in the show." She said the set would be different this year too, but the music will still be live, with a combo led for the second year by the talented Suzy Meredith-Orr.
Playhouse has definitely earned its accolades, taking on quite a courageous season last year.
"Last season was a tough year financially," Sanders said. "We did seven shows: five major productions, The Origins Project, and a 24-hour play festival, as well as the Playhouse Playwrights Initiative. It was a lot, and we were stretched really thin."
Sanders said that, although they are proud of the quality of their work, they have decided to step back from such a full schedule so their quality can improve even more.
Among theatre for a more mature audience in the fall, such as the ghost story The Mystery of Irine Vemp, Playhouse is also producing a Playground production in the spring, The Great Cross Country Race, based on the Aesop Fable The Tortoise and the Hare.
Those who like their drama guerilla-style and served up with local flare, The Playhouse Playwrights Initiative and the 24-hour Play Festival are also slated to jazz up the season.
Light and Dark and Sweet
"I think they will be very pleasantly surprised to experience a great merging of a cabaret space and a traditional, proscenium theater. I'm equally excited about the layout of the stage itself & all the shiny, new lighting, and sound equipment as I am about the front of house table set up, which reminds me of a great lounge in Tahoe in the '60s, which is perfect," said SummerStage performer Rebecca Ungerman in an interview about her one of her three upcoming SummerStage shows, A Blossom, Dearie!
With a distinctive voice, and referred to by many as a darling of the '50s and '60s jazz scene, Blossom Dearie is a woman of many talents, including a rock-and-roll adventure in the educational show Schoolhouse Rock.
"One of the things I love about Blossom is that she fiercely guarded her privacy," Ungerman said. "When Sondheim & Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George came out in 1985, I was struck with how they created a full blown musical from the little that was known of painter George Seurat's life. I feel the same with Blossom."
Portraying a real life character can be difficult, but one has to wonder what it would be like to actually get to perform with Ms. Dearie.
"I'd love to try her version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top,' and try to balance her lightness with my darker tones," Ungerman said.
Spinning Plates Productions begins its season with A Blossom, Dearie! and Ungerman has two more shows planned for the Summer Stage audience: The Unwitting Wife, which will have a one night engagement on July 6 at the Lafortune Cabaret Theater, and
The Course Of True Love Runs Directly Through Broadway at Liddy Doenges Theater July 20 and 21 at 8pm and July 21 and 22 at 2pm.
The Unwitting Wife, co-written by local actress and singer, Lisa Cole, is the journey of two friends attempting to find a soul mate, with original music by Ungerman. Ryan Wayne Tedder and Steven Schrag serve as Musical and Assistant Directors. This cabaret experience has a promised happy ending and is also all-ages appropriate.
The Course Of True Love Runs Directly Through Broadway, which is directed by Lisa Cole, stars Ungerman and is joined by several well-known local talents: Jenny Guy, Jeremy Stevens, and Christopher Middlebrook. This story explores all variations of romantic love and all eras of Broadway, complete with happiness and tears.
Juxtaposition of Time and Place
The first thing one notices is the eyes, then as an internal camera angle widens, the white face paint is apparent, the large lips, the halo of Native American head dress, the expression, the hauntingly real image, stretched over canvas, but real enough to touch. This painting, called "Silent Sentry" is part of the Summer Perspective exhibition on display at Lovetts Gallery through July 16h.
"We have a white woman, who is famous for painting these Native American contemporary scenes, and we have two, young, contemporary Native American artists, and we thought: this is a neat interplay," said gallery director Waylon Summers.
The Summer Perspective exhibition includes a mix of two young Native American artists, painter Marla Allison and potter Jamie Zane Smith. Lovetts is paring these two young artists with a veteran painter, K. Henderson, internationally recognized for her portrayal of contemporary realism and Native Americans.
"Although K. Henderson doesn't strictly paint those contemporary natives," Summers said, "it made a lot of sense to bring those in with those two great contemporary artists. It made a great juxtaposition and had a great commentary on each other."
Also notable on potter Jamie Zane Smith's work, which contains amazing detail, and has been extremely popular with collectors.
"He's a bad ass!" Summers said.
Lovetts Gallery is located at 6528 E. 51st Street, in the Farm Shopping Center. Gallery hours are 10am-6pm Monday through Saturday.
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