BWW Interview: Tony Award Winner Priscilla Lopez Talks Oklahoma! at TUTS

BWW Interview: Tony Award Winner Priscilla Lopez Talks Oklahoma! at TUTS
Priscilla Lopez
Photo courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars

Theatre Under the Stars and Houston Ballet join forces to present OKLAHOMA!, Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration and the precursor to classics like SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Priscilla Lopez, who originated roles for A CHORUS LINE and Lin-Manuel Miranda's IN THE HEIGHTS, stars in this rendition as Aunt Eller, the matriarch of the town (and the musical comedy). See our conversation below!


BWW: How did you prepare for the role? Do you have a process or practice regimen?

Priscilla Lopez: It depends on what the project is. For this production of OKLAHOMA!, which is a classic, and the structure, music and dialogue is already established, the first element I dealt with was the accent. Learning to substitute sounds within the words. Because of the limited rehearsal time, I began memorizing my role, to help make the process of incorporating music and blocking smoother. When I work on new pieces that are in development I don't like to memorize, I like the rehearsal process to inform my choices, stemming from the collaboration of all involved.

This isn't your first canonical musical. Does it get easier each time or do you still get butterflies?

Priscilla Lopez: I always get butterflies! Swarms! But they eventually calm down when I feel secure in what I doing. Then after that, there is no greater joy.

What roles -- small and large -- and experiences --ups and down-- do you think have prepared you for this role?

Priscilla Lopez: Your everyday life experiences, inform every role you play. It's important to have a healthy balance of family life, interests and passions. The need and ability to imagine and create, and a love for what you've chosen to be your life's work as an artist.

Do you have any favorite musical numbers or moments in the musical--to perform or witness.

Priscilla Lopez: I love "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'". It has such a purity about it when the play begins. I'm on stage when it is sung, and it puts me in such an open place. "Kansas City" is so much fun, I get to be on stage and watch the number and play with all the cowboys!

What makes the musical numbers special to you?

Priscilla Lopez: The fact that all the musical numbers have a great energy, and are character driven and create such joy on stage.

If you had to wager, what parts of the production will resonate most with the audience?

Priscilla Lopez: There is so much to get and take away from OKLAHOMA!. The music, words and orchestrations are so beautiful and so emotional. Visually it's simple but stunningly beautiful. Lastly, all the characters and their challenges are so recognizable, the audience is captured immediately. OKLAHOMA! is a win win for any audience.

OKLAHOMA!. 7:30 p.m. September 11-23. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, please call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com.

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