Lyric Theatre of OKC celebrates 50 years of creating theater and community

Great video celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, OK.

The video features several shots of my production of SWEET CHARITY I choreographed there last summer. Makes me smile just to see that again.

But my connection to Lyric goes back even further, as Lyric Theatre was my first professional job at the age of 17, back in 1981. I was in the dance ensemble for the summer in SHOWBOAT, MACK & MABEL, SOUTH PACIFIC and PLAIN AND FANCY.

Lyric was the first place I was paid to be a responsible, professional working in the theater. I actually went to work, traveling from Fort Worth, Texas, before I had even graduated from high school. I had to request a day off from Lyric to go back home and attend my graduation ceremony.

I worked with great artists there, like Joel Levine, who had a long career with Lyric as their music director and went on to become music director of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. I’ve been in touch with Joel a few times over the years and it’s amazing how those long days of summer forge life-time friendships.

I’ve worked at several similar theaters over the years; from Casa Manana in Fort Worth, Texas, to most recently San Diego Music Theater in San Diego. These theaters bring a lot more than a bit of “showbiz” to their communities. From self-confidence to appreciation for the arts to learning responsibility that serves us well in life – these theaters bring a lot to the table.

Wherever you are, I hope you find the local theaters in your area. Get off the couch, so see live theater.

As Cornelius in Hello, Dolly! says “It’s an adventure, Barnaby!”

Production pics from SWEET CHARITY at Lyric Theater

A few pics posted on the Facebook page of Lyric Theater for my production of SWEET CHARITY, plus snapshots from the opening night party (not such great quality, but here for the perusing…)

Ladies of the Fandango Ballroom in “Big Spender”

Milena Govich as “Charity” and Jamison Stern as “Oscar”

The company dancing “Rich Man’s Frug”
Billy Porter, me and Joel Ingram at SWEET CHARITY opening night party

Michael and I with my associate choreographer & “Nickie” Kathryn Murphy

Me with our “Charity” – Milena Govich

Staging Sweet Charity – “The Rhythm of Life”

I saw this movie back when I was a kid and thought Sammy Davis Jr, was super cool. And the dancing stoned hippies are uber-groovy.

In this production at Lyric Theater we have a new millenium version of Sammy, Billy Porter (starring in the new Broadway musical Kinky Boots this fall) playing the part of “Daddy Brubeck.”

Fun day ahead.

Staging Sweet Charity: “I’m A Brass Band”

Staging “I’m A Brass Band” for SWEET CHARITY today.

Love the number. It’s Charity and the boys, lots of great, fun syncopation.

Our “Charity” – Milena Govich – is a strong dancer and likes the big, “boy choreography” steps. She’s great. As are the men of the ensemble.

Looking forward to this one.

Staging Sweet Charity – “Hey Big Spender”

As the adventure continues with staging SWEET CHARITY in Oklahoma City, today I spent time alone mapping out the mammoth “Rich Man’s Frug” by myself so I”ll be ready for it Friday with the company.

And I staged the iconic “Hey Big Spender” (video above from the Broadway production of FOSSE) with the ladies of the company. Got it done in two hours. They really rocked and rolled with it. Plus I have the fab Kathryn Murphy assisting (and playing the role of “Nickie”) who appeared on Broadway in FOSSE doing “Hey Big Spender.” So she was an invaluable help.

Tomorrow is “I’m A Brass Band” – yet another big number, this one featuring Charity and the men of the ensemble. I get three hours to stage that. While I’m doing that Ms. Murphy will spend time going over “Big Spender” with the ladies.

In the afternoon tomorrow, I start with some preliminary “Frug” material with a few people to knock out some bits before Friday.

Having a great time and the company is terrific. Having to move through the material very quickly though, and I’m someone who loves to explore and finesse and “play with” the numbers and there’s not much time for that. They have a phrase here – “tick tock summer stock” – meaning “the clock is ticking, we gotta move on.”

More later… 🙂

Sweet Charity rehearsals – first day

First day of rehearsals for SWEET CHARITY in Oklahoma City for Lyric Theatre.

First number up for staging was “Something Better Than This” with Charity and her two sidekicks Nickie and Helene. This is my partner in crime Kathryn Murphy who is playing “Nickie” – we’ve worked together several times and she saves me in the rehearsal studio in many, many ways. She’s my associate choreographer here and already helping in huge ways.

Staging “Something Better Than This” requires a very latin flair, which in turn HAS to have some “skirt-ography.” So, of course, I requested a rehearsal skirt too. After a few minutes though the ladies couldn’t see my foot work so off the skirt went.

Got the number done and the ladies look great already! Whoo-hoo!

Here’s a clip from the movie starring Shirley Maclaine, Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly doing “Something Better Than This.”

Dear Randy Report readers…

Last dip in the pool before heading to OKC….

Just a heads up to say that I will be posting for the next couple of weeks, albeit at odd times as I will be heading to Oklahoma City to choreograph “Sweet Charity” for the Lyric Theater – where I actually got my professional start in theater 31 years ago… (but age is a state of mind…  ignore the number, what state of mind would you like me to be?)

Along the way I will be posting during the early morning and evening hours – so please keep coming to catch up on the news and my personal spin on life  🙂

I also plan to post a “song a day” of what I happen to be working on with the cast of “Sweet Charity” so you know what I’m up to.  That’s really the point of a blog anyway, isn’t it?

I’ll also post pictures from rehearsals and other events when I can keep you informed of life along the way.

Thanks in advance for staying with me and continuing to check in on The Randy Report.