Skylight Music Theatre Announces OKLAHOMA! Cast, Creative Team
Skylight Music Theatre announced the cast and creative team for Oklahoma! running September 27 through October 13, 2019 in Skylight's beautiful Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward.
Oklahoma! is one of the most influential and triumphant musicals in history. In 1943, Oklahoma! broke ground for seamlessly integrating book, music and dance into its story of a young farm woman and her two suitors. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and numerous Tony Awards, Oklahoma! features a gorgeous Rodgers and Hammerstein score with such unforgettable songs as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Surrey with a Fringe on Top," and of course, "Oklahoma."
"Over 75 years in age, Oklahoma! still speaks to us with a directness that is remarkable," said Jill Anna Ponasik, who directs this new production. "Its quintessentially American story and soaring score have enticed audiences for generations. Without changing a word or a note, we'll look at Oklahoma! with fresh eyes, and listen with new ears to what it has to say to us today. The result may have fewer ruffles, and high-kicking cowboys, but it will bustle with an energy that's uniquely its own," she said.
Ponasik recently directed Skylight's acclaimed production of Carmina Burana (2019), which featured a cast of more than 60 performers, singers and dancers. Joining her on the Oklahoma! creative team will be music director David Bonofiglio, who served as music director for Pippin (2018) and Urinetown, The Musical (2018) at Skylight. James Zager will choreograph the show. He choreographed Skylight's productions of The Tales of Hoffmann (2018) and La Cenerentola (2014).
"Oklahoma! is a landmark musical that was groundbreaking for its time and set the standard for musicals to come. In fact, it was a game-changer in a similar fashion to the way shows like Cabaret, Hair, A Chorus Line, Rent, and Hamilton have been in the years since," said recently named Skylight Artistic Director Michael Unger. "It looks back to an illustrious music theatre past, while at the same time allowing our gifted director, Jill Anna Ponasik, to invigorate it for our times. It is the perfect way to kick off Skylight's 60thanniversary season," said Unger, who begins at Skylight in September. Skylight last produced Oklahoma! in 1992 at Skylight's old theatre on Jefferson Street.
Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between the Broadway powerhouse duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The story was adapted from Lynn Riggs' play Green Grow the Lilacs. Set just after the turn of the century as Oklahoma prepares to become a brand-new state, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the background for the love story of two headstrong romantics, Curly and Laurey. The musical premiered in 1943 and was choreographed by Agnes De Mille. It is currently enjoying a Broadway revival, which garnered two 2019 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical.
Lucas Pastrana returns to Skylight in the role of Curly. Recent credits at Skylight include the title role in Pippin (2018), Bobby Strong in Urinetown (2018) and Anthony in Sweeney Todd (2017).
Co-starring as Laurey is Brittani Moore, who will make her Skylight debut. Moore hails from Chicago where she has worked with Citadel Theatre and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Jeremy Peter Johnson will make both his Skylight and Milwaukee debut in the role of Judd. Johnson spent nine seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was recently seen in The Music Man at The Goodman Theatre and in Off-Broadway productions. Cynthia Cobb, who has appeared at Skylight in Violet (2017), Crowns (2016), Porgy & Bess (2013) and many other shows, will play Aunt Eller.
Oklahoma! features a four-person band on stage. The show is recommended for ages 8 and up.
Skylight Music Theatre performs in the intimate, 350-seat Cabot Theatre. Modeled after an 18th century French opera house, the Cabot is widely considered to be the most beautiful theatre in Milwaukee. Its tiered, jewel-box architecture offers great views for everyone and audiences feel close to the performances on stage.