By Larry Laneer
August 5, 2018
While we make the canicular transition from the passing theater season to the new one, LL Curtain Call asked our leading theatrical artistic directors this question: What shows in the 2018-2019 season are you most looking forward to produced by theater companies other than your own? The only restriction was to productions in the metropolitan area, defined as everything between Guthrie and Norman, inclusive. All theatrical productions from the collegiate level up through professional were eligible for naming.
Let’s get this out of the way. A touring production of the juggernaut Hamilton will play here in 2019 under the auspices of the OKC Broadway series. This much lauded musical (a shelf full of Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, a special Kennedy Center Honor this year for the show’s creators, among several other awards) has two touring companies on the road. Its arrival four years after it conquered Broadway (where it’s still playing) is not bad. We’ve waited longer for lesser shows.
The Pollard Theatre Company’s W. Jerome Stevenson cited Hamilton, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s Sense and Sensibility, which opens this week and is based on the Jane Austen novel, and Richard III. Tyler Woods will play the title role in the latter. Stevenson also looks forward to Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s production of the musical Titanic. You know, about a sinking ship. He added The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, which makes Stevenson a ringer in this survey, as he’s directing the show for City Rep. This critically acclaimed play concerns a 15-year-old boy, who is on the autism spectrum, and his investigation into the death of a neighbor’s dog.
Donald Jordan of Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre named Hamilton and When We’re Gone by Lyric Theatre. This show is the fifth production in Lyric’s exemplary program of staging new musicals. We will see the world première of the show, which is set in 1349 London during the plague. Lyric promises a “pop-punk” score, so we’ll see if the story and music are a good fit (hey, it works for Hamilton). He also picked three Pollard shows: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, which replaces the company’s A Territorial Christmas Carol. Pollard made the change after their long-time Scrooge, the wonderful James Ong, died this year. An adaptation of the beloved film, the play is done as a radio show, including sound effects. Almost, Maine, which in recent years has been one of the most widely staged shows in the country. And Disaster!, a jukebox musical set on a star-crossed casino ship.
Lyric Theatre’s Michael Baron chose Pollard’s An Act of God, which will feature the great Brenda Williams in the title role of, yes, that God. Baron says he grew up in Florida as a huge Gloria Estefan fan, so it follows he would pick On Your Feet! (OKC Broadway), a bio-musical about Emilio and Gloria Estefan. He also selected OSP’s Richard III and City Rep’s Curious Incident.
So, that’s what the professionals are looking forward to in the new theater season. Check the productions in our Show and Theater Guide—which is a select, not a comprehensive, list—or other shows you may know about and feel free to add your own picks in our comments section.