Rodgers & Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA! Opens April 22

Rodgers & Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA! Opens April 22The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, directed by OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch, on April 22 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Preview performances are April 18, 20 and 21, and the musical runs through Oct. 27.

This production, which Rauch first envisioned 25 years ago, celebrates the groundbreaking musical's 75th anniversary by offering a uniquely 21st-century interpretation featuring same-sex couples and other LGBTQ2+ casting, while retaining the original 1906 Oklahoma territory setting.

"With the creation of Oklahoma! in 1943, Rodgers and Hammerstein broke so much ground that they essentially invented the American musical comedy as we have come to know it," Rauch says. "Three-quarters of a century later, we are privileged to try to honor and reinvent their groundbreaking spirit. Every rehearsal has been revelatory as we have uncovered hidden corners of this beautiful material through the impulses of this dynamic cast and creative team. This production serves above all to celebrate, in the words of another musical theatre titan, 'Love is love is love.'"

The music of Oklahoma! was written by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics are by Oscar Hammerstein II and original dances are by Agnes De Mille. The musical is based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs.

Associate Director Miriam A. Laube calls the production both "completely revolutionary and shockingly familiar."

She adds, "I am moved by Bill's desire to investigate and interrogate the truth of the complex, multicultural world the Oklahoma territory actually was before it became a brand-new state, and by Bill's quarter-century-old dream to take this classic piece and interrogate the gender stereotypes. This production is, like the original musical, an interrogation and investigation of love. In the end, it honors the original intent of Lynn Riggs-who self-identified as part Cherokee and gay-and of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

The cast of Oklahoma! features Tatiana Wechsler as Curly McLain, Royer Bockus as Laurey Williams, Jonathan Luke Stevens as Ado Andy, Jordan Barbour as Will Parker, Michael Sharon as Jud Fry, Barzin Akhavan as Ali Hakim, Bobbi Charlton as Aunt Eller, K. T. Vogt as Ma Carnes, Stefani Potter as Gertie Cummings, Cedric Lamar as Ike Skidmore, Rodney Gardiner as Cord Elam, Dan Poppen as Slim, WIll Wilhelm as Leslie, Daniel T. Parker as Uncle Wilbur, Christian Bufford as Frederico, Román Zaragoza as Riggs, Cassandra Lopez as Maria, Jen Olivares as We'wha, Niani Feelings as Bea, Krista Unverferth as Ruby, Nancy Rodriguez as Vivian Skidmore, Naiya Gardiner as L'il Liza Skidmore, and Hyunmin Rhee and Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong as ensemble swings.

Music direction for Oklahoma! is by Daniel Gary Busby and choreography is by Ann Yee. Sibyl Wickersheimer is scenic designer, Linda Roethke is costume designer, Christopher Akerlind is lighting designer and Michael K. Hooker is sound designer. Amrita Ramanan is dramaturg, David Carey is voice and text director, Miriam A. Laube is associate director, Jaclyn Miller is associate choreographer, Kristin Danford is assistant voice and text director, and U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director. Mandy Younger is production stage manager and Peter Royston is assistant stage manager. Casting is by Elissa Myers Casting and Geoff Josselson.

Oklahoma! runs through Oct. 27, 2018, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Due to high demand, two bonus performances have been added: Monday, Aug. 27, and Monday, Oct. 1. Tickets for all performances are available at the OSF Box Office, via phone at 800-219-8161, or online at www.osfashland.org. Engagement programming related to Oklahoma! and other 2018 productions will be offered when the Summer Festival Noons series returns June 19-Sept. 2, 2018.

A sign-interpreted performance is scheduled for May 25 at 8 p.m. Contact the Box Office at 800-219-8161 or email boxoffice@osfashland.org to purchase tickets in the Deaf Community section; these tickets not available online. Information on additional accessibility accommodations is at www.osfashland.org/Accessibility/.

Lead Sponsors for Oklahoma! are Don Kania and Renee DuBois. Partners are Julie Strasser Dixon and Rocky Dixon, Karen Easterbrook and Alex Sutton with Phyllis Sutton, Katie Farewell, Claudette and George Paige, and Kathleen Quinn and Michael McClain. OSF's 2018 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.

OSF's full 2018 playbill includes Othello, Sense and Sensibility, Destiny of Desire, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Snow in Midsummer in the Angus Bowmer Theatre; Henry V, Manahatta and The Way the Mountain Moved in the intimate Thomas Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet, The Book of Will and Love's Labor's Lost in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals and world-premiere plays. OSF's play commissioning programs, which include American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, have generated works that have been produced on Broadway, throughout the American regional theatre, and in high schools and community theatres across the country. The Festival draws attendance of more than 400,000 to approximately 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals.

OSF invites and welcomes everyone, and believes the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions enriches both our insights into the work we present on stage and our relationships with each other. OSF is committed to equity and diversity in all areas of our work and in our audiences.

OSF's mission statement: "Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory."

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