Grosse Pointe Theatre Presents OKLAHOMA, Opening 9/16

Grosse Pointe Theatre Presents OKLAHOMA, Opening 9/16

Grosse Pointe Theatre presents "Oklahoma!" opening Sunday, September 16 with a 2:00 PM matinee at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. Continuing performances are September 20-22 and 27-29 at 8:00 PM, plus Sunday shows on Sept 23 and 30 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $24. Group rates are available. For tickets and information, call 313-881-4004 or visit

Set against the backdrop of ranching Oklahoma in the early 1900s, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical is full of fun, music and romance for everyone. Great songs, bright dances and charming reflections of an enthusiastic lifestyle all combine in one of America's classic Broadway musicals. Popular songs from the show, which have become American standards include: "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Many a New Day," "Kansas City" and, of course, the rousing title song.

Grosse Pointe Theatre first produced Oklahoma! in 1965 and is pleased now to bring it to new audiences with fresh talent from around Metro Detroit. Many will recognize songs from the show, which have become American standards, such as "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Many a New Day," "(Everything's up to date in) Kansas City" and, of course, the rousing title song.

Oklahoma! premiered at New York's St. James Theater in March 1943, staged by Rouben Mamoulian. It marked a Broadway milestone by revolutionizing the American musical.

Oklahoma! was the first collaboration of the award-winning team of Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book & lyrics). Prior to teaming up, each had independently considered writing a musical version of Green Grow the Lilacs, the play by Lynn Riggs on which the musical is based. So they were ready to create a show.

But many thought it would be a flop. There were no big stars, no gags, and no leggy chorus girls in skimpy costumes. The plot had tragic elements and Agnes deMille's choreography was more aptly labeled as American folk-ballet, much different than the usual Broadway fare. Oklahoma! struggled to get financial backing. After seeing previews, that it was too artistic and "box-office poison." They wrote: "No Girls, No Gags, No Chance." But after its Broadway opening, the headline read: "No Girls, No Gags, No Tickets!" Critics topped each other's superlatives in their reviews, and audiences were mesmerized by the music, artistry and imagination. What made Oklahoma! different was that it advanced the story line through its music and choreography, when earlier shows had flimsy plots strung together with tunes and dances.

Oklahoma! broke all box-office records and ran on Broadway for an unprecedented five years and nine months (2,248 performances), after which the original cast toured the show in seventy-one cities. A national touring company played for ten years throughout the U.S. It was the first musical to have its entire score recorded, thus creating the original cast album.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for their first collaborative effort. Oklahoma! became an international success, playing in Europe, South Africa, Scandinavia, Australia and for the armed forces in World War II. The London production at the Drury Lane Theatre had the longest run of any play in its three-hundred year history.

Directors and Cast
Don Bischoff of Macomb Township directs and is chief choreographer of GPT's production. Stan Harr of Grosse Pointe Shores is musical director. The talented and enthusiastic cast includes: Steve Xander Carson of Grosse Pointe Woods as Curly; Erin Ginger of Grosse Pointe Woods as Laurey; Brian Groth of St. Clair Shores as Jud Fry; Kate Connolly of Grosse Pointe Woods as Ado Annie; Kevin Fitzhenry of Warren as Ali Hakim; Eddie Tujaka of Grosse Pointe Farms as Pa Carnes; Beth Teagan of Grosse Pointe Woods as Gertie Cummings; Peter DiSante of St. Clair Shores as Cord Elam; Daniel Morency of Grosse Pointe Park as Ike; Jacob Surzyn of Grosse Pointe Woods as Dream Curly; Catie Campbell-Cormier of Columbus as Dream Laurey (and ballet choreographer).

Other cast members include:
Will's Girls: Nina White of Grosse Pointe Park and Claire Yonkus of Grosse Pointe Farms;
Cowmen and Farmers: Perry and Bianca Calisi of Grosse Pointe Park; Robby Mullinger and Anna Christinidis of Grosse Pointe; Robert Cobau and Daniel Blohm of Grosse Pointe Farms; Leslie Jacobs and Antonio Cipriano of Grosse Pointe Shores; James Spencer, Michael Edick, Christina Amato, Janie Burkey, and Kristina Kamm of Grosse Pointe Woods; Eleonore Ellero-Groth and Genna Michael of St. Clair Shores, Jaclyn Graybill of Chesterfield; and Amber Vinson of Detroit;
Oklahoma Children: Natalie and Jessica Boehmer, Bridget and Andrew Backer, and Natalie White of Grosse Pointe Farms; Lilly Groth of St. Clair Shores; Sophie Leszczynski of Grosse Pointe Woods; Jarod and Paige Clark of Royal Oak; Kyle Bischoff of Macomb Township; Andrew Fleming of Grosse Pointe; Gino Calisi of Grosse Pointe Park.

The crew includes:
Grosse Pointe Woods residents Rick Hawley-technical director, Lyndsey Briggs-co-producer, Larry Garcia-publicity, Lisa and Eric Leszczynski-lighting, and Bill Tuthill-sound; St. Clair Shores residents Arlene Marie Schoenherr-stage manager and Mary Beth Semczak-makeup; Grosse Pointe resident Laurie Bilkie-Snyder - co-choreographer; Columbus resident Catie Campbell-Cormier-ballet choreographer; Ferndale resident Jeannine Simpson-co-producer; Harrison Township resident Mary Kay Sogge-costumes, Sterling Heights resident Mat Raya-set design; Macomb Township resident Tracy Bischoff-scenic painter, Royal Oak resident David Hertzberg-sound;Grosse Pointe Farms resident Alexandra Miller-set dressing/props; Chesterfield residents: Rick Pfaff-set dressing/props and Jackie Pfaff-makeup; Roseville resident Patrick Lienemann-assistant stage manager, and Detroit resident Carolyn Darby-child minder.

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