SCHEDULE
Matinees at 2:30 pm
Evenings at 8:00 pm
Runs June 30 through August 11
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VIDEO
Oklahoma!
by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
FULL CREDITS
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The Artists of Oklahoma!

Music Richard Rodgers
Libretto Oscar Hammerstein
Conductor Christopher Zemliauskas, Adam Turner+
Director Ken Cazan
Choreographer Daniel Pelzig
Scenic Designer Alan E. Muraoka*
Costume Designer Marcy Froehlich*
Lighting Designer David Martin Jacques
Wig/Makeup Designer Dave Bova*
Associate Conductor/Chorus Master Adam Turner

Cast

Laurey Maureen McKay*
Curly Matthew Worth
Will Parker Curt Olds
Jud Paul LaRosa*
Ali Hakim Gene Scheer
Aunt Eller Joyce Castle
Ado Annie Kaitlyn Costello*
Gertie Cummings Erin Greene
Andrew Carnes Thomas Goerz*
Ike Skidmore Nathan Milholin
Cord Elam Andrew Lovato
Ellen Alisa Jordheim
Fred Stephen Carroll
Virginia Claire Kuttler
Kate Monica Soto-Gil
Vivian Catherine O'Rourke
Dream Laurey Sarah Tallman
Dream Curly Colby Foss*
Solo Dancers Marian Faustino*, Ben Delony*

* Indicates Central City Opera Mainstage Debut
+Conducts August 10

FULL CAST
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Joyce Castle
Joyce Castle
Kaitlyn Costello*
Kaitlyn Costello*
Ben Delony
Ben Delony
Marian Faustino
Marian Faustino
Colby Foss
Colby Foss
Thomas Goerz*
Thomas Goerz*
Paul LaRosa*
Paul LaRosa*
Maureen McKay*
Maureen McKay*
Curt Olds
Curt Olds
Gene Scheer
Gene Scheer
Sarah Tallman
Sarah Tallman
Matthew Worth
Matthew Worth
CREATIVE TEAM
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Dave Bova
Dave Bova
Ken Cazan
Ken Cazan
Marcy Froehlich
Marcy Froehlich
David Martin Jacques
David Martin Jacques
Alan E. Muraoka
Alan E. Muraoka
Daniel Pelzig
Daniel Pelzig
Adam Turner
Adam Turner
DIRECTOR'S NOTES (Ken Cazan)
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"I wanted to create a production that wasn’t totally quaint but still was a tribute to the pioneering spirit of these rough and active settlers of the Midwest. We have gone for a minimal approach to the physical production. A large, multi-purpose metal truss structure dominates the set. It looks like a rock and roll tour except that the metal of the supports is aged and antiqued. Various panel drops (think your front porch blinds that are lowered to block out the sun in the summer) with period pictures, from photos to samplers to Winslow Homer paintings, suggest location but more importantly, suggest the mentalities of the various characters. Most of these panel images are raised and lowered by the cast, the hard working, tough living, adventurous people who swept across the Plains states in the early 1900s. There are three roof trusses as well, indicative of the hip roof truss developed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the first decade of the 1900s specifically to survive the high winds and potential catastrophic weather of the Oklahoma territory. The Gold Rush people didn’t all make it California and many of them chose to settle in the fertile, flat land of the Midwest. These people worked and struggled to create existences for themselves and make a better future for their descendants. We decided to make the costumes the clothing of working men and women: Laurey is in a basic, gingham-esque dress covered in filth when we first see her. Maybe she has been slopping hogs, maybe milking cows or sowing seed. She cobbles her own shoes. Curly has just come off of a cattle drive and is covered in dust and horse sweat. Aunt Eller is in work clothes, churning butter first thing in the morning. These people worked hard and they played hard as seen in the Act II “Farmer and the Cowman” number and scene. The inhabitants of the territory are raising money to build a schoolhouse: education is tantamount for their children. The basis of this celebratory musical is the grit and determination of dreamers: people not afraid to roll up their sleeves and brave tornado alley in order to improve themselves, their neighbors, and ultimately, their country. It was a time and location when people worked to improve not just themselves but their entire community. One ironic bit of scenery is a map of the Indian territories that existed in the Oklahoma territory in 1906, two years before Oklahoma became a state. Within several years of statehood, the displacement of the Indian Nations was well under way. Consequently, in the final scene, we replace the Indian territories map with a map of the original Oklahoma state map, one without the panhandle which came later.

These are some of the ideas that went into this production of Oklahoma! We tried to mix the old with the new to keep it fresh and relevant. We also tried to pay tribute to these strong-willed survivors. This one is for my ancestors, German, Scottish, and Romanian immigrants who moved to the Midwest during this very period."
HISTORY
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"One might wish for a time machine to travel back to New York City in the very early twentieth century. With the gift of historical perspective, one could gather together three youths growing up at the time but still unknown to one another – George Gershwin (1898 – 1937), Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990), and Richard Rodgers (1902 – 1979) – and set about making introductions. Surely three musically inclined youths, all of Jewish heritage, would have found something to say to one another, conversations that would have been fascinating to hear. Although each would write varied music in their adult careers, all made contributions to the world of opera and musical theater.

Youngest of the three, Richard Rodgers grew up in the borough of Queens where his father, a wealthy physician, enjoyed taking the family to the opera. Richard started studying the piano at age six, and later attended Columbia, then Juilliard (at the time known as the Institute of Musical Art). Before he was twenty, his songs – often with lyrics by Columbia classmate Lorenz Hart – were being included in musical variety shows on Broadway. As their reputations grew, they began to craft entire shows, in which all the words were by Hart and all the music by Rodgers. The 1920s and 1930s were the Rodgers and Hart years, from a Broadway point of view.

Unfortunately, working with Hart grew difficult, due to his problems with alcohol. So Rodgers turned to another old classmate, Oscar Hammerstein II, and launched a new partnership. This newest team would collaborate to create some of the most timeless classics of the Broadway stage: The Sound of Music (1959), The Flower Drum Song (1958), The King and I (1951), South Pacific (1949), Carousel (1945), and Oklahoma! (1943). It is the last of these listed – first chronologically, and their first partnership – that concerns us today.

Oklahoma! derived from a pre-existing light musical play, Green Grow the Lilacs, by Lynn Riggs in which the music was simply an assortment of cowboy songs. Rodgers and Hammerstein felt they could do better, not only musically but dramatically. First, they expanded the tale to make more of the comedic side plot dealing with Ado Annie and her suitors; then, as further counterpoint to the sweetness of the central couple, Laurey and Curly, they created in Jud Fry a villain unusually dark for the lighter venues of musical theater. The result was more multi-faceted than usual musical theater fare of the day, rather in the way that Verdi operas are more multi-faceted than those against which they were competing most of a century before Rodgers and Hammerstein. They thought their audience could handle it, and they were proven right. From the time of its premiere at the St. James Theater in New York March 31, 1943, Oklahoma! ran for over two-thousand performances at the St. James alone, and won a Pulitzer Prize the following year.

Oklahoma! also went further than its competition through its use of dance. Most musical theater of the time used dance as illustration of the setting; in this case, that would imply country dancing and perhaps a square dance or two. Instead, Rodgers and Hammerstein engaged choreographer Agnes de Mille, who one year earlier had worked with Copland on the ballet Rodeo, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera. She brought to this newest project more classic ballet ideas, not only in the style of the moves, but also in the scope of how ballet would be used. It would be dance not just as visual entertainment but also as character exploration. Thus, in Act One, there is an extended dream ballet in the heroine Laurey imagines a conflict between good and bad: Curly and Jud. We see into her imagination, making the gradual development of the plot that much richer. Modern productions may or may not use de Mille’s original choreography, but still react to the same expressive music. Verdi, too, brought expressive dance into many of his operas.

Some might wonder why an opera company would bother with Oklahoma! Musical theater in an opera house? The fact is that musical theater itself derived from operetta – the newer term coming to be preferred in American theaters in the early twentieth century once “operetta” had come to sound rather old-fashioned. As for operetta, it had come from opera itself, as a lighter version of those grand stage productions, one in which a certain amount of spoken dialog was permitted. So not only Gilbert and Sullivan but also Offenbach and even Mozart wrote operettas; after all, that’s what The Magic Flute is, even though Mozart didn’t yet know that term “operetta” at the time. So Oklahoma! is a twentieth century view of an old tradition, and dating from 1943, actually predates the Britten opera on this summer’s schedule. Oklahoma! had reached England long before Britten composed The Turn of the Screw, so here one finds two contrasting views of what a musical drama can be. Oklahoma! is actually the bigger – and handily the more familiar – of the two.

Notes by Betsy Schwarm"
THE INSIDE SCOOP
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For insider information on OKLAHOMA!, LA BOHEME, THE TURN OF THE SCREW and the entire 2012 Festival, follow our blog or download The 2012 Opera Insider (Full Season Resource Guide) (pdf) featuring history on all of the 2012 Festival operas, their composers, interviews with artists, and festival information.