Terry Burrell Takes on Aunt Eller in Arena Stage's OKLAHOMA!


E. Faye Butler, who portrays Aunt Eller in the summer revival of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater's acclaimed and record-setting production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, will transition out of her Helen Hayes-nominated role to begin rehearsals for Arena Stage's 2011/12 season opening play Trouble in Mind. Butler will be replaced by Terry Burrell, who was last at Arena Stage in the 2007/08 world-premiere musical The Women of Brewster Place. Burrell joins the Oklahoma! company August 2, and her first performance will be August 9. Burrell was "lovely and heartbreaking...spellbinding" in Signature Theatre's Show Boat (TalkinBroadway.com), and will be a strong addition to the cast.

Trouble in Mind, by Alice Childress, explores the strained relationships of a newly integrated cast rehearsing a bold anti-lynching drama. Butler begins rehearsals August 9 for the role of Wiletta Mayer in Trouble in Mind, under the direction of Irene Lewis. The two also collaborated on the production during CENTERSTAGE's 2006/07 season, along with actors Starla Benford (Millie Davis), Tony Award nominee Thomas Jefferson Byrd (ShelDon Forrester), Daren Kelly (Bill O'Wray), Garrett Neergaard (Eddie Fenton) and Lawrence O'Dwyer (Henry). For Arena Stage's production they will be joined by Brandon J. Dirden (John Nevan), Gretchen Hall (Judy Sears) and Marty Lodge (Al Manners).

Terry Burrell (Aunt Eller beginning August 9) makes Oklahoma! her fourth production at Arena Stage. Previous performances include The Women of Brewster Place, Thunder Knocking on the Door and Of Thee I Sing. Broadway credits: Threepenny Opera, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Swinging on a Star, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, Honky Tonk Nights, Eubie and the first London production of Show Boat as Julie. Other Regional credits: Up from Paradise, Crowns, Mahalia, Cinderella, Smokey Joe's Café , for colored girls, Sophisticated Ladies, Man of La Mancha, Copacabana, Ain't Misbehavin', A Christmas Carol, Jar the Floor, The Boys from Syracuse and Brownie Points. Off-Broadway: Almost Heaven, And the World Goes Round, Taking a Chance on Love, "America" Radio City Music Hall. Concerts for Jazz in July at the 92nd Street Y, The Duke Ellington Orchestra in Venice and the Oslo Jazz Festival. She was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for her work in Queenie Pie and Show Boat. Her one-woman theatrical piece Ethel will debut at Walnut Street Studio Theatre in February 2012.

Saturday afternoons during the run of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, free family-friendly events will be held in and around the Mead Center from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., prior to the 2:00 p.m. matinee. Come enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo on the Sixth Street sidewalk with the return of Pony To Go, learn some of the award-winning dance moves from the show, or share a box social lunch with your friends and family. For an up-to-date schedule visit here.

Step aboard the Odyssey this summer for a gourmet dinner cruise, followed by a performance of the Helen Hayes Award-winning musical Oklahoma! at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Boarding time for the Odyssey dinner cruise will begin at 5:00 p.m., sailing from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The performance of Oklahoma! will begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for the Odyssey dinner cruise and Oklahoma! are priced at $139.67 per person. All packages must be booked through Arena Stage at 202-488-4380 or at www.arenastage.org.

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