Tari Kelly Joins John Cudia, Ashley Brown and More in Lyric Opera of Chicago's OKLAHOMA


Lyric Opera of Chicago's general director Anthony Freud announced today that Broadway's Tari Kelly will portray the feisty Ado Annie in the company's premiere and new production of Oklahoma! directed by Gary Griffin May 4-19 at the Civic Opera House. Casting is now complete for the beloved classic musical.

"Tari will be a tremendous asset to our Oklahoma! cast," said Freud. "She sings up a storm on Broadway and all over the country, portraying some of the most vivid characters in musical theater. She's exhibited an irrepressible vitality and megawatt personality that will make her a wonderful Ado Annie."

Returning to Chicago, where she earned her degree in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, Tari Kelly recently appeared on Broadway as Reno Sweeney in the Tony Award-winning revival of Anything Goes and as Mamma Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the St. James TheatrE. Kelly's national tour appearances include Audrey/Little Shop of Horrors, Sally Bowles/ Cabaret, and Ellie May Chipley in Hal Prince's Show Boat. Regionally, Kelly has starred as Millie Dillmount/Thoroughly Modern Millie at the MUNY in St. Louis and Lincolnshire's Marriott Theatre; Janet Van De Graaff/The Drowsy Chaperone, Edythe Herbert/My One and Only, and Fran Kubelik/Promises, Promises at Stages St. Louis; and Sally Bowles/Cabaret at Pittsburgh's Public Theatre and Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, to name a few.

Previously announced members of Lyric's Oklahoma! cast and production team include John Cudia (Curly), Ashley Brown (Laurey), David Adam Moore (Jud), Curtis Holbrook (Will Parker), Paula Scrofano (Aunt Eller), Usman Ally (Ali Hakim), Matt DeCaro (Andrew Carnes), Andrea Prestinario (Gertie Cummings), Gary Griffin (director), James Lowe (conductor), John Lee Beatty (set designer), Mara Blumenfeld (costume designer), Christine Binder (lighting designer), Valerie Maze (chorus master),Gemze de Lappe (choreographer), Victor Wisehart (associate choreographer), and Jill Walmsley Zager (English diction and dialect coach). (Jenn Gambatese had been announced as Ado Annie last November, but has since withdrawn.)

Lyric's new production of Oklahoma!, which will include the original Agnes De Mille dances and original orchestrations (performed by 37 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra), will also feature a 28- member singing/dancing ensemble (with 12 members of Lyric Opera's Chorus) plus three solo dancers.

The production will have 16 performances on May 4 (7:30pm), 5 (2pm), 8 (2pm & 7:30pm), 9 (8pm), 10 (7:30pm), 11 (2pm & 7:30pm), 12 (2pm), 15 (2pm & 7:30 pm), 16 (7:30pm), 17 (7:30pm), 18 (2pm & 7:30pm), 19 (2pm) at the Civic Opera House, Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $32 to $153.

Premiered on Broadway in 1943, Oklahoma! was the first musical written by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It ran for 2,243 performances with many songs becoming American classics, including "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning," "People Will Say We're In Love," and "Surrey With The Fringe On Top." Based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs, the story is set in the Oklahoma Territory of 1906 near Claremore and tells the story of two pairs of young lovers.

New Lyric Opera production of Oklahoma! generously made possible by an Anonymous Donor, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, The Negaunee Foundation, Northern Trust, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, and Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills.

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