Lyric Theatre Opens Season with Gospel Musical CROWNS

Lyric Theatre Opens Season with Gospel Musical CROWNS

Lyric Theatre will experience a convergence of faith and fashion next month when it opens its 2018 season with Crowns, a jubilant celebration of African American church ladies and their long-standing love affair with glamorous hats.

The first of eight productions this season, Crowns connects five women's cherished custom with memorable occasions in their lives. The limited, three-week run opens Feb. 7 and continues through Feb. 25 at the Plaza Theatre, 1725 NW 16 St.

The production is brimming with witty storytelling and rousing gospel greats, including "His Eye is on the Sparrow," "Just a Closer Walk" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." Based on the book by Regina Taylor, the story is a springboard for an exploration of how these hats are more than a mere fashion accessory; they're a cherished custom in the African American community. As Taylor noted in her book, "There's a little more strut in your carriage when you wear a nice hat."

The musical is seen through the eyes of a young black woman who, after her brother was killed in New York, travels to the South to stay with her aunt. She discovers there are hats for just about every occasion and finds the tradition of the "crown" dates back to African rituals and slavery and has become a part of modern-day fashion.

"This is a play about faith and family; about the tribe, about how and why, despite generational differences and geography, the tribe endures and grows," said W. Jerome Stevenson of the Pollard Theatre, who is guest directing at Lyric for the first time. "Our team was encouraged to present a rich and nuanced story in all its complexities. We discovered that embracing the pain and joy in these stories enriched a sense of pride in our shared progress towards a larger human tribe."

This production was adapted for the stage by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry and features choreography by Hui Cha Poos and music direction by Sandra Thompson. The cast of seven includes Kizzie Ledbetter (Mabel), M. Denise Lee (Mother Shaw), Ashley Arnold (Yolanda), Delanie Phillips Brewer (Wanda), Kimberly Oliver (Velma), Nakeisha McGee (Jeanette) and Derrick Cobey (Man).

Crowns marks Lee's first show with Lyric Theatre. Ledbetter previously appeared in Lyric's productions of Aida and Hello, Dolly! and Arnold took to the stage last summer in Disney's When You Wish and also Dreamgirls and The Wizard of Oz in 2016. Oliver also stared in Disney's When You Wish. Brewer's Lyric credits include My Fair Lady, My One and Only, George M!, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Wiz. Cobey appeared in Lyric's 2011 production of Ragtime and the 2013 hit Big River. Additionally, audiences might recognize McGee from Lyric's two most recent productions - Lyric's A Christmas Carol and Rock of Ages.

Single tickets to Crowns start at just $25. For more information, visit LyricTheatreOKC.org or call Lyric's box office at (405) 524-9312.

About Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Founded in 1963, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is the state's leading professional theatre company. Lyric produces classic and contemporary musicals, new works, and plays featuring artists from Oklahoma and around the nation. Shows are presented at two Oklahoma City venues - the intimate Plaza Theatre and in the summer at the grand Civic Center Music Hall. Lyric's Thelma Gaylord Academy is the premier professional theatre training ground, offering classes in all aspects of the performing arts. Lyric is a nonprofit member theatre of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and Allied Arts. For more information, visit www.LyricTheatreOKC.org.

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