CityRep and OCCC Thrilling Audiences with 60th Anniversary “The Music Man in Concert”
Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (CityRep) under powerfully creative Artistic Director Donald Jordan, in cooperation with Oklahoma City Community College is bringing an exciting program of Public Works to Oklahoma City. An extravaganza that pools many of the wonderful performing arts organizations and talented stars is the result. This extravaganza is in honor of the 60th anniversary of “The Music Man” and is titled “The Music Man in Concert” which will play at the OCCC Visual and Performing Center Theater for three incredible performances. These exciting events will take place on Friday, September 28, at 7:30 and Saturday, September 29 also at 7:30 and on Sunday, September 30, a matinee with a 1:30 curtain.
Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” has always been a beloved show for so many people bringing together a large cast to perform a delightful story about one Harold Hill, the charming music man/con artist. However, this show is just a little different; it’s the concert version. The show concentrates on the award-winning story, music and lyrics to tell the tale minimizing the elaborate sets, costumes and properties.
The approach, developed by the Public Theater, allows CityRep to bring in excellent partners to tell the story of Harold Hill’s visit to River City!
As a result, there is an extensive combination of professional performers and exceptional community engagement represented in the show. Broadway star and Oklahoma native, Teri Bibb brings her magnificent voice and skillful acting to “The Music Man in Concert” as Marian the Librarian, while one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons, the incredibly talented Jonathan Beck Reed stars as the entrancing deceiver, Harold Hill.
“The Music Man in Concert” engages many nonprofit organizations from throughout the community which facilitates a much larger group of excellent performers to participate. A company of over 100 makes this the largest production to date in CityRep’s history!
CityRep’s partners include Oklahoma City Community College, which is serving as co-producer for the show and housing it at the beautiful VPAC theatre. The OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater has a beautiful stage and auditorium providing comfortable seating with excellent sightlines and acoustics.
The Ambassadors Concert Choir is participating; adding their voices to the extravaganza. Also the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, the University of Oklahoma in Norman and the 405 Barbershop Quartet are participating in this unprecedented joint effort, joined by many talented young Oklahomans from Classen School of Advanced Studies. Each and every one of the young and gifted cast members are contributing immeasurable talent and dedication. They come from diverse organizations who are contributing such as Race Dance Company, and Santa Fe South Pathways Middle College.
There are students and alums from Oklahoma City University (as well as the partners OU and UCO) joyfully working again with friends who are all beloved members of our great theatre family.
The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority brings Vice President Bill Perry into the spotlight in “The Music Man in Concert” performing impeccably alongside Molly Johnson as Mayor and Mrs. Shinn.
The cast is very unique and diversified. Broadway Star Teri Bibb has performed for two presidents with her command performances at the White House as well as impressing audiences in her many Broadway successes. When asked about her role as Marian she says: “There are so many wonderful things about being a part of this show! Being back in my home state, singing this role that I love so much (this is my 7th production)…but mostly, I confess, the best part is being reunited with so many of my friends from my OCU and Lyric Theatre days. I’m so proud of CityRep and what they continue to bring to this community. It is so important to involve so many diverse groups in putting this together, and I’m so impressed with the level of talent they’ve assembled for this show. Thrilled to be a part of it.”
Jonathan Beck Reed has an exceptional resume portraying Oklahoma’s first favorite son, Will Rogers, among others. Fans delight in his comic timing in a wide range of roles from the many parts of “Greater Tuna” to his “My Fair Lady” creating a superb Henry Higgins, just to name a very few of his roles. He is Artistic Director of Spotlight Acting Academy alongside his wife, Amy Reynolds-Reed who is Artistic Director of Dance Unlimited. These two entities have brought their partnership to “The Music Man in Concert” in three proud performances: Reed and his two children, Ember Reed and Krayson Reed are all performing in “The Music Man in Concert” for CityRep.
Another partner is Painted Sky Opera founded by Executive Director Barbara DeMaio. DeMaio has had an incredible career as a highly acclaimed diva internationally. Her superb voice has graced the halls of opera houses throughout Europe and the United States for many years. During her career she lived in Italy for many years, but she has returned to Oklahoma City where she is now Dr. Barbara DeMaio, Professor at the University of Central Oklahoma as well as Executive Director of the successful opera company, Painted Sky Opera, she co-founded three years ago. And now she returns to her Oklahoma roots and her first love, musical theatre! Her outstandingly beautiful voice soars vastly whether she is singing opera, musical theatre or, from her student days, playing ‘Madame Gollicootchie, the operrrrrra singer’ in an OCU puppet show touring the pediatric wards of Oklahoma City hospitals in 1973.
Performing alongside DeMaio, Reed and Bibbs is the 405 Quartet, one of Oklahoma City’s premiere barbershop quartets. It’s pretty eclectic to have a barbershop quartet performing alongside an opera diva, but it works so well! Greg Rogers, Caleb Henderson, Austin Smith and Joey Allen take acapella to exceptional heights perfectly in “The Music Man in Concert” and the blend of Broadway and barbershop is tremendous. And they have excellent stage instincts-yes, they can act!
Watching Justin Larmon over the years at CityRep and currently at Lyric it’s wonderful for him to be back at CityRep and playing Marcellus for the third time, on this occasion in “The Music Man in Concert.” In this production he is really able to concentrate on the fun he can have with his voice, as well as how light he is on his feet! Larmon first joined the ranks of professional actors at CityRep, and this show allows him to share his talents with a grateful audience and also to encourage younger performers in their endeavors.
Anthony Neumann is one of the young students from Dance Unlimited and Spotlight Academy, and he is having a great deal of fun in the role of Winthrop Paroo, a challenge he is rising to meet with aplomb. His enthusiasm is infectious. It is interesting to talk with all the children in the show, working alongside their classmates and privileged to interact in profound ways with the more seasoned performers in this show. What makes these kids want to work so hard in the show is an interesting question and the answer from Jonathan Beck Reed’s precocious children, Ember Reed and Krayson Reed follows: “So we could experience working with such great professionals like Teri Bibb!” (Not to mention their father!) At rehearsal it is noticed how Reed casually drapes his arm around son Krayson as they stand together on the stage receiving their ‘notes’ while witnessing the expression of pride and love radiating from them both. During the rehearsal itself, Reed is seen gazing raptly at daughter Ember emoting beautifully as Amaryllis in her scene with Bibb. Reed’s thrill as a father is almost as entertaining as his own performance, and his children’s performance! His pride in all his students is palpable. Neumann, Madison Perry and Camden Baily also have learned a great deal simply by watching these theatrical troupers and wizards in performance and Christian de Coune is simply the coolest kid in the show!
Holding the kids together are Daniel Leeman Smith, Youth Director and Dance Captain Abbie Ruff. There are many children that are not mentioned here, but they are all deserving of great applause and commendation for their maturity, dedication and talent.
Bill Perry has been on stage on quite a few occasions although he is does more work behind the scenes at OETA, he is wonderful enjoying his position as the Mayor of River City. Alongside Mayor Shinn is wife, Eulalie Shinn played expertly by Molly Johnson who is not seen on stage often enough!
Ben Hall, Marcellus Hankins and Terry Zinn, are all amazing in their parts for this concert show. Their humor is evident in each scene. They are part of a circle that scrolls through this production—Hall has done many CityRep productions, most recently and notably in “Heisenberg” and Hankins comic presence as the President in City-Reps production of Mamet’s “November” a few years ago is memorable. Terry Zinn has been in countless productions over the years—including an appearance in Lyric’s “Carousel” many years ago alongside a very young novice—Jonathan Beck Reed. With a company that totals over 100, It is impossible to list the names of every excellent performer in the supporting and ensemble roles although they are all worthy of recognition.
Kurt Leftwich, representing OCCC, CityRep’s co-producer for “The Music Man in Concert” is an active and delighted liaison, smoothing the way for the productions success. There are many organizations lending talent and support to this project. The Public Works concept strengthens the natural bonds between different organizations, and fosters a sense of community. Uniting the diverse groups and people coming from so many areas of entertainment is of greater benefit to those organizations, and most of all to the community and to the audience. Public Works encourages young and new talents to reach for greater heights and provides opportunities for experienced troupers to share their talents and wisdom. The familiar and beloved music from the concert version of the 60th anniversary special “The Music Man in Concert” is the ideal vehicle for the program. One of the best ways to describe the flexibility of the concert version is from Teri Bibb: “…It is so special to me to be a part of this community-wide effort. And I really enjoy the concert format; stripping down the piece to its bare bones — no big sets or elaborate costumes, just the words, the story and the music. Especially when those elements are part of a classic, timeless piece like “The Music Man” (now, of course “The Music Man in Concert.”)
But those responsible for bringing this show to such great heights as we shall see are some of the most dedicated artists in Oklahoma City. Of course, the ever-energetic Donald Jordan pulls it all together, but the director of “The Music Man in Concert” is the incomparable Harry B. Parker. Parker is Chair of the Department of Theatre at Texas Christian University but like many Texans his heart is also closely linked to his home, Oklahoma City. His professional and academic credentials are outstanding and he has established a strong, commanding teaching relationship with the entire cast. Under his leadership this cast is destined for great and magic performance levels. Being able to work under his direction allows everyone in the cast to participate in a memorable and cherished event with pride.
The Music Director of “The Music Man in Concert” is Dr. Sandra Thompson. Thompson is one of UCO’s most respected professors. She conducts the vocalists with amazing skill and control, but she is not heavy handed; she is obviously making the experience fun. This enhances the delight that these young people have in the show as well as setting excellent parameters and the professional performers are basking in the seamless vocal performances created. Jerry Steichen assists and his piano accompaniment in rehearsal is already outstanding. He can move abruptly from scene to scene with a glide rather than a jump, and his skill as a music director and assistant as well as musician is impressive. His contribution is also a future memory that will be bragged about for generations to come!
Even though this show is presented as a concert, the dances and therefore the choreography are exuberant! Hui Cha Poos is one of Oklahoma City’s most popular choreographers and she ensures that everyone in this cast may dance as light on their feet as Justin Larmon and as graceful as Ember Reed. She is able to bring a greater sense of motion to the concert version, resulting in restful visualization for the audience.
Sixty years ago Meredith Willson first premiered “The Music Man” alongside writer Franklin Lacey earning a Grammy for Best Original Cast Album. His success is mirrored in this concert version producers Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre and Oklahoma City Community College are presenting: “The Music Man in Concert.” The integrity of Willson’s brilliance as well as the continued enjoyment of everyone who has loved “The Music Man” for over half a century is continued with honor and wonderful entertainment!
For information or tickets contact CityRep at 405-848-3761 or visit www.cityrep.com. The 60th anniversary of “The Music Man” that we have cherished all these years we can relive in joy as we enjoy “The Music Man in Concert” opening Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:30, and playing again on Saturday night, September 29, 2018, also with a 7:30 curtain. There is a 1:30 curtain for a Sunday matinee performance on September 30, 2018. The venue is at OCCC VPAC Theater which is located at 7777 South May Avenue in Oklahoma City and has easy access off the highway. This is one show that should not be missed, and it will be enjoyed by all! United we stand and harmonize gloriously with diversity rather than division, performers and audience as one. It’s no trouble; it’s a miracle, a miracle right here in Oklahoma City!