POSTED ON JUNE 5, 2013:
Can You See the Lion Tonight?
A roar, a dream, some chicks, and some kids
It's finally here. If you've seen it before, you've probably been salivating at the media blitz Celebrity Attractions has thrown at us for the last few months in anticipation of the June opening of The Lion King. If you haven't seen it before, you might be a little tired of the ads.
Either way, it's here. Having opened Tuesday night, The Lion King continues to sell tickets for its entire run of more than a month.
For Syndee Winters, the 25-year-old Miami, Fla. native who plays Nala in the show, every day of the run (and every day of every run, for that matter), is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"It's funny, because every day is a different experience," she said. "The music of the show is so special that even when it comes on my iPod, I'm like, 'Yep, not gonna skip it.'"
While there are rock musicians like Sting and Sir Paul who play the same songs for decades and have to work to keep the music fresh, for Winters, it's the audience that does that for her.
"It's as fresh as it can be each day," she said. "The butt in the seat is different every day."
And individual audience members often make performances even more special.
"There are times when you feel like, 'I'm doing my best, but it feels like my best is actually the worst,'" Winters said. "But then that's the show that a little girl comes up and says, 'That was so good,' and her mom says, 'She wants to follow in your footsteps now,' and you've changed somebody's life, and you think, 'Ha, there it is.' If you can touch somebody in the audience, that's all that matters, you know?"
Winters landed the iconic role three years ago, having originally auditioned in 2008.
"I was really excited, because Nala is a role I've wanted to play since I was a little girl," she said. "I went into my audition and never got a call back. A couple of years later, they had an opening and they called me in. I've been loving it ever since."
And she'd have to, judging from the grueling Lion King schedule.
"The tour is in such high demand that we go 365 days a year," she said, forgetting that July 4, the show will be dark in Tulsa, and one assumes that Simba and friends take breaks to open Christmas presents or eat Thanksgiving wildebeest dinner. "We get Mondays to travel. So we'll leave a city on a Sunday, travel on Monday, and do a show on Tuesday. We have a meeting on the first Tuesday in a new city at 10am to introduce ourselves to the local crew and get familiar with the space, and then we have a dress rehearsal that afternoon. Then we start again that night."
As tough as that schedule might seem, Winters has no desire to see it wind down and no plans to jump ship.
"Principals have a yearly contract. When the contracts come up, they've always offered me a renewal, and I love working with Lion King," she said. "I don't have one bad thing to say about it or how they treat me."
When asked about the things she loves about the show, the actor gushed. Then again, to do this as long as she has, she'd have to, wouldn't she?
"I definitely feel that the role of Nala has completely evolved and turned into something even more special and more organic than it was three years ago," she said. "I've grown as an artist, I've met the most incredible people that I'll keep with me forever. My favorite thing about it? The change to travel all over the country and meet all kinds of people from all different walks of life and calling them my friends. Seeing the country. Having those, like, how-amazing-your-life-is moments. The entire experience in itself."
Not bad for a Florida kid who worked as a wedding singer before Mufasa came her way.
The Lion King runs Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 6:30pm through July 7.
Return of the Bard
Longtime Tulsans hear A Midsummer Night's Dream and often instinctively think of the lawn at the Philbrook Museum, where American Theatre Company has -- off and on since the 1970s -- performed the seminal Shakespeare comedy in the summer.
Now, the troupe that has given Tulsa A Christmas Carol pretty much every year since Jesus invented Christmas returns to the Philbrook lawn with Theseus, Hippolyta, fairies, Puck, and that guy with the donkey's head.
Audience members will want to bring a blanket or a lawn chair, since only the poor people stood through a whole Shakespeare show, and that was only back in the day when William himself was alive and in the theater.
A Midsummer Night's Dream runs June 7 and 8 on the grounds of the Philbrook Museum at 2727 S. Rockford Ave. Tickets are $20 with discounts for children and Philbrook members. The grounds open at 6:30pm, and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets at 918-596-7111, myticketoffice.com, at the Philbrook front desk, and at the gate before the performance.
Girls Gone Wild
In 1986, 15 years after the Broadway success of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, the playwright sat down and tweaked the script in order to create a new and separate version: The Female Odd Couple. Gone is the poker game, Oscar, and Felix, having been replaced by a night of Trivial Pursuit, Olive, and Florence, respectively.
The comedy comes to the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse stage starting Friday, June 7.
The Female Odd Couple runs June 7-9 and June 14-16 at the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse, located at 1800 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow. Friday and Saturday shows start at 8pm, Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets are $8-$15 and available at the door, online at bacptheatre.com, or by phone at 918-258-0077.
There isn't much in the way of theater for the youth of Tulsa that's better than what they've got going at Clark Theatre. This week, CT joins with Youth Services of Tulsa to present The Emergence Project.
And how does a teenager emerge, exactly? In this case, he writes a play, and ET puts it on. This year sees five short plays -- none longer than 10 minutes -- written and produced by Tulsa teens.
The Emergence Project runs June 6-8 at 7:30pm and June 9 at 2pm at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 South Quaker Avenue. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and students.
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