OKLAHOMA! Anniversary Benefit Concert Takes Center Stage At Bucks County Playhouse
A benefit concert, "A Beautiful Dawning: Oklahoma! at 75," a celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein's ground-breaking musical, is a highlight of Bucks County Playhouse's fifth Oscar Hammerstein Festival, June 21-22.
Playhouse Executive Producer Robyn Goodman, Producing Director Alexander Fraser, and Producer Josh Fiedler announced details about the fifth Oscar Hammerstein Festival, a weekend that celebrates the importance of lyrics in the creation of new musicals. Over the course of two days, The Oscar Hammerstein Festival features special events all devoted to musical theatre. The general public is encouraged to purchase a 2-day pass, which grants access to all events, including "A Beautiful Dawning: Oklahoma! at 75" benefit concert, which will be held on Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. and the staged reading of the new musical, "Being Theo", to be held on Friday, June 21 at 8 p.m. Single tickets are also available for purchase.
"A Beautiful Dawning: Oklahoma at 75" features Justin Guarini (BCP's "The New World" and Broadway's "American Idiot", "Romeo and Juliet", "Wicked", "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown", and "In Transit") and a cast of rising New York singers (additional names to be announced) with Rodgers and Hammerstein Organizations' Chief Creative Officer Ted Chapin serving as writer, narrator and host. Direction and choreography is by Parker Esse (Broadway's "Fosse") with musical direction by Andy Einhorn (veteran of eight Broadway shows including the recent productions of "Carousel" and Hello Dolly!"). Projection design is by Dan Scully. "Oklahoma! at 75" is based on an original concept and production for 92nd Street Y's Lyrics and Lyricists, New York, NY.
"A Beautiful Dawning: Oklahoma at 75" is being sponsored by Dee Ann and Marvin Woodall; whose roots are in the great state of Oklahoma, where they met as students at the University of Oklahoma over 60 years ago.
"When 'Oklahoma' premiered more than seven decades ago, the Broadway musical was forever changed. Today, as 'Oklahoma' breaks new ground with a revolutionary new Broadway production, we see how Hammerstein's genius continues to reshape modern musical theater," says Robyn Goodman, Executive Producer of Bucks County Playhouse. "The Playhouse's Oscar Hammerstein Festival celebrates this genius while also allowing audiences to get to know promising musical theater writers who are working to create the next generation of musical theater."
"Josh Fiedler and I saw the 'Oklahoma at 75' concert at 92Y's Lyrics and Lyricists and we knew right away it was a perfect fit for our annual festival," adds Fraser. "Ted, Andy and Parker have unearthed the show's fascinating history, showcasing that marvelous score. Hammerstein wrote 'Oklahoma' here in Bucks County at Doylestown's Highland Farm. Just as the iconic, 80-year old Bucks County Playhouse continues to provide extraordinary contributions to the cultural and economic climate in our community, 'Oklahoma' - 75 years old - continues to dazzle with its ability to be exciting and relevant to a new generation of theatergoers. It is a testament to Rodgers and Hammerstein's extraordinary talent."
"Oklahoma!," Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration, was a game changer. An early dismissal of the show: "No jokes, no legs, no chance," couldn't have proved more wrong. "Oklahoma!" ushered in an entirely new kind of musical, and with it, the dawning of a new era in musical theater. Through narration by Chapin, the Playhouse audience will gain a new perspective on the show through performances of its classics ("Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,' "People Will Say We're in Love"), uncover songs dropped from the production during its pre-Broadway run ("Boys and Girls Like You and Me," others), and explore, with fresh eyes, "Oklahoma's!" continued relevance 75 years after its history-making premiere.
Bucks County Playhouse's Oscar Hammerstein Festival is named in honor of the master writer whose countless accomplishments during his illustrious career have included mentoring a young Stephen Sondheim at Hammerstein's Highland Farm in Bucks County. The weekend of events is part of a year-long program that offers expert mentorship to early career composers and lyricists.
Among the other programming scheduled for this year's festival is a staged reading of a new musical, "Being Theo" at 8 p.m., Friday, June 21. With book, music and lyrics by Michael Patrick Walker, "Being Theo" is a charming musical comedy that follows the travails of Theo, a socially awkward young man who is facing a difficult moment in his life. How will he get his girl, his job and his self-esteem back without losing what he values most ... being the best Theo he can be? Michael Patrick Walker brings a fresh sensibility and great music to this classic "coming of age" musical.
For the second year in a row, Bucks County Playhouse also is partnering with Roundabout Theatre Company's Space Jam Program by offering two teams of composers and lyricists an artistic retreat in Bucks County. Space Jam is a playwright-support initiative designed to give writers the time and space to work through various types of solo and group writing retreats. This year, Oscar Hammerstein Festival will preview works by the two teams at a presentation reserved for Hammerstein Festival passholders only.
"Bucks County Playhouse is thrilled to once again partner with Roundabout Theatre Company to offer this artistic retreat during our Oscar Hammerstein Festival," says Producer Josh Fiedler. "Last year, attendees were fascinated to get an inside look at the process of writing a new musical. We look forward to welcoming these songwriters as guests of honor at the benefit concert and to hearing their own work performed as part the weekend's activities."
A limited number of festival passes are available. VIP Passes are $750 and preferred passes are $375. Passholders receive admission to all the weekend events. Single tickets for the Saturday night benefit concert "Oklahoma! at 75" with a Post-Show Reception are $150. Concert only tickets are $65. Tickets to the Friday evening staged reading of "Being Theo" are $25. To purchase tickets or for more information on Bucks County Playhouse visit buckscountyplayhouse.org or call the box office at (215 )862-2121.