News Column

SummerStage back to its roots ; This season's schedule is heavy on theater

May 22, 2013

YellowBrix

By JAMES D WATTS JR

The play's the thing for the 2013 edition of SummerStage, the annual performing arts festival presented by the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust.

This year's festival includes eight dramatic offerings, including a swing-era staging of a Shakespeare comedy, a world-premiere adaptation of a classic American story, a portrait of a tender Trans- Atlantic friendship and a tale of four friends trying to survive on their own.

"It was a little surprising to see such a rise in the number of straight plays for this year," said Chad Oliverson, marketing director for the Tulsa PAC Trust. "In one way, it's like getting back to the festival's roots because it started out strictly as a theater festival.

"But there is still quite a diversity of events this year, which is something we're always striving to have," he said.

Some of the artists and groups returning to SummerStage are Theatre Pops, Janet Rutland, Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater, magician Steve Lancaster, the Appassionata duo, Theatre Tulsa and Rebecca Ungerman's Spinning Plates Productions, which will have three separate shows again this year.

New works that will premiere this summer include "Little Women" - adapted from Louisa May Alcott's novel by playwright Cody Daigle, author of the acclaimed "William and Judith" - presented by Playhouse Tulsa, and two one-act plays by Tulsa attorney J. Dobie Langenkamp: "Old Red on the Head" and "Jesus for the Defense," to be presented by Theatre Pops.

In addition, SummerStage will conclude with the 2013 Oklahoma Community Theatre Association's conference on "The Business of Art," with workshops and presentations on how community theater companies and other performing arts groups can more effectively fund, market and promote what they do.

This year will also be the first time a SummerStage production will be presented in a venue outside of the Tulsa PAC.

"Much Ado About Nothing," which sets Shakespeare's comedy of romance during the days of World War II, will be performed on the stage of the Guthrie Green in the Brady Arts District. It is a joint presentation of Tulsa Shakespeare in the Park and the University of Tulsa.

"It's the first SummerStage show outside of the box, so to speak," Oliverson said. "One of the things we've been working toward is to create a true fringe festival, with SummerStage and PAC as the home base. We're hoping that expanding SummerStage to the Guthrie Green for one show is the birth of a fringe festival."

This year's SummerStage dates are June 11 to July 27, but the festival is in fact being presented in two blocks.

"We decided not to program anything during the week of the Fourth of July," Oliverson said. "We'd rather not split the festival like this, but we also know that a lot of people - including performers - have plans of their own for that weekend."

SummerStage will also offer the Festival Pass, which provided discounts of up to $10 when one buys admission to any three participating shows. Festival Passes can be purchased only at the PAC ticket office, 101 E. Third St., or by calling 918-596-7109.

SummerStage 2013

June 11-16 - "Much Ado About Nothing," Shakespearean comedy about the triumph of true love, set during World War II. Presented by Tulsa Shakespeare in the Park and the University of Tulsa. Performed at Guthrie Green. Admission is free.

June 13-16 - "Old Red on the Head" and "Jesus for the Defense," short plays by Tulsa author J. Dobie Langenkamp. For mature audiences. Presented by Theatre Pops. Doenges Theatre.

June 14-15, 22-23, 25, 27, 29-30 - "Hello, Dolly!" Classic musical comedy about matchmaker Dolly Levi, who sets her own matrimonial sights on the town's leading businessman. Presented by LOOK Musical Theatre. Williams Theatre.

June 14 - "The Cheril Vendetti Experience." Comedian Vendetti has been a regular at L.A. Comedy Store, had her own reality series on the OWN network and traveled the country making people laugh at the outrageous things she has to say. Presented by One Hot Tomato Media. Norman Theatre.

June 15 - "Queen Cleofis Comes Home." Rebecca Ungerman takes on the persona of this mythical songstress, known for her unique twists on classic American pop songs - and we do mean twists. Presented by Spinning Plates Productions. Norman Theatre.

June 15 - "Why Cyn Sings Jazz." Cynthia Simmons, a favorite of audiences at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, performs in her first cabaret show, highlighting the Great American Songbook. Presented by Spinning Plates Productions. Norman Theatre.

June 16, 23, 28 - "Side by Side by Sondheim." Many of the most famous songs featuring the music and words of Stephen Sondheim. Presented by LOOK Musical Theater. Williams Theatre.

June 16 - "Steve Lancaster's Family Magic Show." Master magician Lancaster presented everything from grand illusions to up- close sleight-of-hand magic. Presented by Top Hat Magic. Norman Theatre.

June 21-22, 26, 29-30 - "The Drowsy Chaperone." A die-hard fan of musical theater wants to share his memories of a long-forgotten show that happens to come to life in his tiny apartment. Presented by LOOK Musical Theatre. Williams Theatre.

June 21-23 - "The Boys Next Door." A poignant comedy about four men, all dealing with various mental disabilities, who share a small apartment and the same social worker. Presented by Sand Springs Community Theatre. Doenges Theatre.

June 21 - "Two of a Kind." Popular vocalists Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Cindy Cain deliver Broadway, pop, jazz and blues. Norman Theatre.

June 22-23 - "Wrong Way Broadway 2: Even Wronger." Samuel Jeremy Stevens leads his cast through a series of tunes that turn the Great White Way on its head. Norman Theatre.

June 27-30 - "84 Charing Cross Road." Based on Helene Hanff's book, this play recounts the long-distance friendship between a voracious reader in New York City and the proper London bookseller who helps her find the titles she wants to read. Presented by Spinning Plates Productions. Doenges Theatre.

June 28-29 - "Slouching Toward Barnsdall: Wisdom and Whining from Barry Friedman and John Wooley." Two local writers with loads of one-liners give their unique perspectives on the state of the state of Oklahoma. Norman Theatre.

July 11-12 - "A Song is Born." Vocalist Janet Rutland focuses her ninth SummerStage cabaret on the works of some of America's best songwriters. Pianist Scott McQuade accompanies. Norman Theatre.

July 12-14 - "Little Women." The story of the March sisters during the American Civil War is adapted by writer Cody Daigle. A world-premiere production. Presented by The Playhouse Tulsa. Williams Theatre.

July 12-13 - "Dhadkan." A young girl comes to understand how dance and music provide the heartbeat of life. It includes everything Chinese lion dances, Bollywood routines, belly dance and hip-hop. Presented by Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater, Doenges Theatre.

July 13-14 - "Mischievous Swing." The quartet of violinist Shelby Eicher, mandolin player Isaac Eicher, bassist Nathan Eicher and guitarist Ivan Pena play music that covers the spectrum of jazz. Norman Theatre.

July 14 - Appassionata duo. Violist Jeff Cowen and harpist Jill Wiebe put a new spin on pop and rock tunes - from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "Eleanor Rigby." Doenges Theatre.

July 18-21 - "Native Women's Voices: Sofkee for the Soul." A new theater piece exploring the unique voices of American Indian women and how expression can be as sustaining as food. Presented by Vanessa Adams-Harris. Norman Theatre.

July 19-21 - "Children's Letters to God." A musical that follows the lives of several young friends who address adult issues of belief and doubt. Presented by Theatre Tulsa. Doenges Theatre.

July 19-21 - "Combined Minds." Aerial acrobatics and contemporary choreography combine in a story about toys that come to life in a multimedia dance extravaganza. Presented by Portico Dans Theatre. Williams Theatre.

July 26 - "Tinkerbell's Greatest Hits." The annual monologue show will focus on "just the funny ones" from previous years. Presented by Theatre Pops. Norman Theatre.

July 27 - "Moksha." Noted dancer Vidhya Subramanian, a master of the Bharatanatyam style of Indian dance, leads local dance students in this program. Presented by Sanskriti School of Dance. Williams Theatre.

July 26-27 - OCTA Conference: "The Business of Art." Workshops on social media, marketing, grant writing and other topics. Presented by the Oklahoma Community Theatre Association. Doenges Theatre.

SummerStage Festival Pass

Participating shows:

"Hello, Dolly!"

"Side by Side by Sondheim"

"The Drowsy Chaperone"

"Why Cyn Sings Jazz"

"Queen Cleofis Comes Home"

"The Boys Next Door"

"Two of a Kind"

"Wrong Way Broadway"

"84 Charing Cross Road"

"A Song is Born"

"Dhadkan"

"Little Women"

"Mischievous Swing"

Appassionata duo

"Native Women's Voices"

"Children's Letters to God"

"Combined Minds"

"Moksha"

James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478

james.watts@tulsaworld.com

Originally published by JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer.

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