This preview has been provided by the UNC School of the Arts.
Kick up your heels and head on over to Winston-Salem for a unique production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is performing Oklahoma! from April 28 through May 8 at the Roger L. Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.
When Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943, it transformed musical theatre with its innovative integration of words, music, dance and design. It was so unique in its approach that many, at the time, were convinced it would fail. Instead, it was a hugely successful musical that in the words of Theodore Chapin, President and Executive Director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, “galvanized an entertainment genre into an American art form.”
UNCSA is doing something a bit different from most other productions of this beloved musical. They are faithfully and meticulously re-creating that original Broadway production including the sets, costumes, musical score, stage design and the original Agnes de Mille choreography, all of which will give attendees a rare opportunity to experience one of the most exciting moments in theatre history.
Gemze de Lappe, a renowned dancer and teacher who performed in the original Broadway and touring productions of Oklahoma! and worked closely with de Mille for many years, is helping UNCSA duplicate the original choreography. UNCSA faculty from the School of Design & Production are working from archival photography, extant designs, published records and the supervisory input of de Lappe to re-create the scenic designs of Lemuel Ayers as well as the brilliantly colored and varied textures of Miles White’s costume designs.
Oklahoma! will be directed by Terrence Mann, a UNCSA alumnus (School of Drama, BFA in acting, 1978) and a prominent actor, singer, dancer and director. Mann’s breakthrough performance was in the original cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, where he created the memorable lead role of Rum Tum Tugger. Mann has appeared in numerous other Broadway shows including Tony Award-nominated roles as the original Inspector Javert in Les Misérables andthe original Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
The Musical Director for Oklahoma! will be internationally renowned conductor John Mauceri, Chancellor of UNCSA. Mauceri’s distinguished and extraordinarily varied career has brought him not only to the world’s greatest opera companies and symphony orchestras, but also to the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as the most prestigious halls of academia. He is a recipient of a Tony, an Outer Critics’ Circle Award, a Drama Desk and two Emmy Awards and has worked closely with the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization on numerous projects.
The cast for Oklahoma! is drawn from the students at UNCSA, America’s first public arts conservatory. The mission of the school is to train young people to become professional artists and their Alumni are performing on Broadway, in Hollywood, at the greatest opera houses and ballet and dance companies, and as designers and managers in virtually every field of the performing arts.
For more information about ticket prices and performance schedules visit www.uncsa.edu/ok.