Tag Archives: Fort Worth Theater

Circle Theatre Offers Free Tickets

Circle Theatre is offering FREE TICKETS to children 6 -11 and up to two adults per family.  These tickets are good for the opening week of our upcoming production, Seven in One Blow.  They will be available on a first-come-first-served basis, by calling Circle’s Box Office at 817-877-3040, from noon – 5pm, Tuesday thru Friday.  These FREE TICKETS  are for Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoon at 3pm, November 17 – 19.

Children, 6-11, are still eligible for half price tickets for the rest of our run. Group rates for parties of 10 or more are also available.

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Opening Knight, New Year’s Eve

The sword is drawn from the stone tonight as Artisan Center Theater presents a special performance of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot during their New Year’s Eve gala, ringing out the old year and officially opening their 2011 season.  

Established as a nonprofit community theater in 2003, Artisan Center Theater is home to a 150-seat theater in the round, producing up to ten shows per year.  Camelot will run through January 29, 2011 at 418 East Pipeline Road in Hurst, Texas.  Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday matinees.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.artisanct.com or by calling the box-office at 817-284-1200. 

Directed by Dennis Canright and produced by DeeAnn Blair, Camelot utilizes two highly talented casts performing six shows a week.  Sharing duties as King Arthur are Neil Rogers and award-winning actor Brad Stephens in his fourth Artisan appearance.  Meredith Browning and Amanda Gupton perform as Queen Guenevere with Joel Lagrone and Kyle Holt in the role of Lancelot.  Both casts are amazing so come see the show twice! 

Click here, print these out and give them to your friends for ticket discounts!

Named one of John Garcia’s breakthrough performances of 2010, Brad Stephens will perform Monday and Friday evenings and Saturday Matinees.  Casts are subject to change so be sure to check his upcoming events calendar for updated performances.  You may recieve a discount on tickets by printing out a sheet of Feature Actor Cards and presenting one upon arrival at the theater.  Please feel free to give the rest to your friends! 

A classic of American musical theater, Camelot is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White tetralogy novel The Once and Future King.  The original 1960 production ran on Broadway for 873 performances, winning four Tony Awards and spawning several revivals, foreign productions and a 1967 film version. The original cast album was America’s top-selling LP for 60 weeks.

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It’s Good To Be The King

I am pleased to announce I have accepted the role of King Arthur in the upcoming Artisan Center Theater production of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot

This will be my fourth production with Artisan after performances as Nanki-Poo in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado; Jeff Douglass in Lerner & Loewe’s Brigadoon; and Curly McClain in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!  It will also be my second collaboration with director Dennis Canright who directed me in Oklahoma! 

Based on The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Camelot is one of theater’s most beloved musicals. Relive the legend of King Arthur in an enchanting fable of chivalry and honor. Dazzling with romance, history and glorious music, it is a tale to be relived for all time. 

Camelot will open on December 31, 2010 and run through January 29, 2011.  The show is double-cast so check back soon for details on when I will be performing.  For more information, visit www.artisanct.com.

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SOUND OF MUSIC: The Column Review


Reviewed by Carol Anne Gordon, Associate Theatre Critic for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN


“Rorschach! Get me a complete file on everyone who’s seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC more than four times!” – William Shatner, AIRPLANE II, THE SEQUEL.

Um, I resemble that remark. Four times? More like four hundred times. Easily.

Growing up, my parents had the original Broadway cast album of this show,featuring Mary Martin, who was too old (46!), too alto (in her duet with Theodore Bikel, they sounded like two male tenors), and too vibrato-y to play Maria, but we still played that album until it wore out, and sang the whole score on long road trips to Louisiana during the holidays. My mother had seen the actual Trapp Family Singers in concert when she was young, and my father had read the real Maria’s book.

So now you know, if you hadn’t guessed it before, that I come naturally – byboth nature and nurture – to my musical theatre geekiness.

When the show came to the Dallas Summer Musicals at Fair Park Music Hall in the early 1960’s, we couldn’t wait to get our usual seats in the top row of the third balcony in nosebleed Heaven. Initially, though, I was disappointed: the curtain rose, and we saw Maria, in her black & white postulant outfit, in a tight spot center stage.

Since all we had waaaay back then was a black & white TV, & since we were seated sooooo far away, I asked my parents, “Is this a cartoon?”Happily, the spot grew larger and the color staging appeared, and I was thrilled to see (finally!), instead of just imagining, the show played out before me in all its syrupy goodness.

And then, 1965 came, with the divine, sublime, enshrined Julie Andrews, who took the part of Maria and made it her own forever. The movie ran at the Inwood Theatre for two years straight, and every weekend, as long as I had completed my homework and chores, I was allowed to ride my bike up to the Inwood and watch at least one showing. My tenth birthday party was just one more excuse to go see it again, this time with all my friends.

So before I reached the age of 11, I had seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC well over one hundred times. It would be impossible to see any stage production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC and not compare it to the iconic movie, but I, the ultimate SOM fan, am here to tell you that this production measures up supremely well and does not disappoint.

Wanting to get a younger person’s view on the show, I took a 6 year old friend as my guest. Luckily, her parents also love the movie, so the story wasn’t new to her, but I was eager to get her take on the live performance, since she,unlike me, has only seen the movie, and not every local production that has ever appeared in the Metroplex since 1965.

Ironically, the last time I had been to Casa Mañana was when I was in junior high school, and it was to see – you guessed it – THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I felt a lot of nostalgia approaching the familiar silver dome, and was very impressed by what I found inside. Back in the day, Casa was a huge theatre-in-the round, but in 2004 it was completely renovated, and now features a proscenium thrust stage,with an actual backstage for entrances and exits. That disappointed me at first,because I remembered how much fun it used to be when the actors came and went byway of the aisles throughout the audience.

I’m happy to report that Casa has not abandoned that old tradition, and that it still works incredibly well. In the opening scene, just the Mother Abbess was onstage, singing the Dixit Dominus in Latin, while most of the nuns were lined up the aisles singing along. These holy sisters were indeed divine – on pitch, acapella, and perfectly in sync with beautiful round tones. A wonderfully auspicious start to a very enjoyable afternoon.

Throughout the show, actors continued to come and go via the aisles, always but always staying in character the whole time. Kudos to Director Alan Coats and the entire cast for this: it would have been very easy for the actors just to walk down the aisles in a leisurely manner, not being “on”, not acting out their parts, until they climbed the steps to get under the lights on stage, but not one of them took the easy way out. If they were under the dome, they were their characters.

Lighting Designer John Bartenstein and Scenic Designer Mark Halpin have done a fantastic job. For the first time in my boundless experience with this show, the familiar giant center stage staircase of the von Trapp mansion entryway, which splits into two high balconies, was no where to be found. All the scenes but one took place in front of the beautiful background of the Alps, with subtle set pieces of furniture, architecture, and landscaping creating the Nonnberg Abbey,Maria’s room, and the terrace of the von Trapp villa. Only in the next to last scene, when the family is onstage at the Salzburg Festival, does the suddenly enclosed space, decorated with huge Nazi banners, give the audience the claustrophobic feeling of impending doom promised by the Third Reich.

Tammy Spencer’s costumes were perfection, as was Coats’ choreography.I especially loved how he had the party guests marking the Laendler in place upstage while Maria and the Captain danced it expansively downstage.

The two second leads, Dennis Yslas as Max and Diana Sheehan as Elsa, were absolutely charming and always good comic relief. I’ve heard raves about Dennis Yslas in the past, but have never seen him perform until now. And now I understand what all the raves are about.

Sheehan also accomplished something that even one of my dearest friends, who played Elsa in the Lewisville production a few years ago, wasn’t able to do: she made me not hate….okay, she actually made me LIKE…the character of Elsa. She brought a warmth and comic layer to it that truly made me feel sorry for her when she called off her engagement to the Captain.

Sorry, should I have put a spoiler warning there? Surely not; how can anyone not know by now that Maria and the Captain end up together? And there lies the obstacle that the Casa crew had looming before them: how to put on this beloved musical in a way that was fresh enough to gain it new fans, not just bring in the old groupies like me.

They’ve surmounted this obstacle and succeeded. More than a third of the audience was children, and not all of them were girls, either. I sat in front of two tween boys who were having the time of their lives. My young guest knew every song already (from the movie), and sang along quietly on them, as I heard other children nearby doing.

Speaking of children singing: Bravi to the seven children onstage! What a beautiful blended sound, from Marty McElree as Liesl to Cosette Cook (who turned five years old opening day!) as Gretl.

Caitlin Hale Daniels, as Louisa, has a set of pipes that rings beautifully from the dome on her solo lines, but still blends perfectly in the ensembles.

And as Friedrich, Cooper Rodgers has a soprano that could have made him a star of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

The surname Rodgers makes me ponder the composer of this wonderful musical –Richard Rodgers. Together, he and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the music and lyrics, respectively, for this and several other famous musicals

But Hammerstein had died by the time the movie came out & Hollywood wanted some new songs for the film. As a result, Rodgers approved cutting three songs from the original Broadway production (“How Can Love Survive?”, “An Ordinary Couple”, and “No Way to Stop It”), and adding two new ones (“I Have Confidence” and “Something Good”).

When I first saw the movie, I missed the old songs, all though I did recognize “How Can Love Survive” being played instrumentally in the ballroom scene, and I was only lukewarm about the addition of “I Have Confidence”.

But “Something Good” – ugh. More like Something Awful. Great tune – that’s what Rodgers was famous for – but abysmal lyrics, because Rodgers wrote them instead of Hammerstein. Rodgers should have asked some other famous lyricist to help him out, because there were still plenty of them around then – Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, the Sherman Brothers – heck, I was only 9 years old and I could’ve come up with something better than “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could”! Alas, ever since the movie premiered, stage productions have cut the same three original songs and added the two new ones from the movie.

Try, then, to imagine my excitement when I looked at the program for this performance and saw that the three original songs from the Broadway opening were going to be in this show, and that the two new ones from the film were not!Except….that’s not what happened.

Evidently whoever put the program together got the list of songs from Wikipedia’s list from the original show, instead of checking with the music director to see which songs were actually going to be performed.

“How Can Love Survive” was re-added to this show, and that was a welcome addition, especially since it gave a duet to Yslas and Sheehan. Note to Casa’s proofreaders: next time, run the program by the music director before you put it to bed.

We all need to be thankful that there was a music director, Edward G. Robinson,and a real live excellent orchestra. Musical theatre needs live music, and if we all want to see more of good musical theatre, we need to support the houses that have live music. This orchestra was excellent, never overpowering the singers,and subtly slowing their tempi a couple of times when a lead singer fell a bit behind the beat. The orchestra even garnered applause from the exiting guests as they played us all out of the theatre.

Patty Goble as Mother Abbess brought a warm rich voice to her leading of the nuns in three very different numbers, and really nailed the big finish of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” at the end of Act I. Hers is not the hard to de-code contralto of the past that has traditionally played this part – instead she is intelligible and accessible, right up to her chill-inducing conclusion of this beautiful, inspiring ballad.

As Maria, Jacquelyn Piro Donovan had her work cut out for her. She’s miles better than Mary Martin ever was (which is a very good thing), and different from Julie Andrews (whom imitating would be an impossible thing). Her voice is more pop than I’ve usually heard in this role, but she conveys a genuine warmth and sincerity in her singing and dialogue, and to my surprise and delight, she also turned lines with which I’m very familiar into comic ones. Her voice was a perfect blend for that of Steve Blanchard, who played Captain von Trapp in an innovative way, as well – less cold and stuffy, more trying to hide his fragility with bluster.

My one complaint about this production would be something I have disliked about every live performance I have ever seen of this show: everyone is speaking with American accents, or maybe a little hint of a British or Austrian accent,until….zee evil Nazis ah-rrive. Und zen zeir accents are zo wery Cherman zat zey are praktiklee unintelligible.

This must be something in the stage directions, but it is ridiculous and always initiates unintentional laughter. The Nazis’ appearance in this happy house hold are supposed to imply the impending horror with which they were about to envelope the world, but instead they end up sounding like bad extras on a repeat of Hogan’s Heroes, and jolting the audience out of their previous suspension of disbelief until they (mercifully) exit the stage.

This show is a perfect family outing, worth the cost for the memories you will take with you. My only regret is that I won’t be able to go back again, with a whole bunch of children, to the closing night performance on September 19th,when the audience will be invited to sing along. You will regret it if you don’t take the opportunity to see this show, with as many family members, young and old, as you can, before its too-short run ends next weekend.

Reviewed by Carol Anne Gordon, Associate Theatre Critic for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN


THE SOUND OF MUSIC Casa Mañana Through September 19, 2010

Special sing-along performance Sunday, September 19th at 7 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm Sunday nights at 7:00 pm

Tickets / Reservations / Box Office: (817) 332-2272


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“One of Our Favorite Things”

Saturday, Sep. 11, 2010 

Casa Mañana’s ‘Sound of Music’ is truly one of our favorite things 

By Mark Lowry 
Special to dfw.com 

Sometimes it feels like any production of The Sound of Music could be performed by zombies. And still, the beloved songs about needles pulling thread and raindrops on roses would satisfy any audience. As long as a staging isn’t an all-out disaster, it’s typically a solid, entertaining show. 

So what a relief that Casa Mañana’s revival, which opened Saturday and is directed and choreographed by Alan Coats, isn’t a walking-dead stroll. It’s thoughtfully performed, beautifully sung and occasionally insightful. Who knew that these characters could surprise? 

On a stage of simple-but-luxurious-looking set pieces (by Mark Halpin), the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical rolls along at a swift but manageable pace. 

As Liesl, the eldest of the Von Trapp children, Mary McElree gives a heartfelt turn. The others (Cooper Rodgers as Friedrich, Caitlin Hale Daniels as Louisa, Bobby Rochelle as Kurt, Brooke Verbois as Brigitta, Lauren MaGee as Marta and Cosette Cook as Gretl) are kitten-whisker cute, and they all manage laudable harmony. That’s important. These kiddoes were famous singers, after all. 

Patty Goble, as the Mother Abbess, knocks it out the park on her big song, Climb Ev’ry Mountain; Tyce Green is a memorable Rolf; and Dennis Yslas gives Max some personality. 

In one of the show’s most overlooked roles, Fraulein Schraeder, Diana Sheehan makes her less of an ice queen than what’s usually seen in that role. 

When she quietly concedes that Maria has taken over her territory in Capt. Von Trapp’s life, it’s heartbreaking. 

But the audience is over that quickly, because Jacquelyn Piro Donovan has already won us over with her quirky, stubborn and charismatic Maria. Her rich vocals give a slightly different sound to this music, but it’s striking. 

As the captain, Steve Blanchard sings like a dream and charms, even through his character’s sergeantlike demeanor. Like Frau Schraeder, that’s a role too often played at a distance. 

Perhaps it’s because it happens in a more intimate space (Casa Mañana Theatre, not Bass Hall), but under Coats’ direction, it’s as if the sun has melted all signs of ice on this oft-climbed mountain of a musical.

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I make my Casa Mañana premier tomorrow night in the ensemble of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.  I am having a fantastic time working with some of the most amazing and talented actors and singers.  Jacquelyn Piro Donvan and Steve Blanchard are two of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet.  If you can make it out to the show, you’re in for a real treat.

Here is a recent posting on Playbill.com:

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan and Steve Blanchard to Hear The Sound of Music in Texas

By Adam Hetrick • August 25, 2010

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan and Steve Blanchard will co-star in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music, which will open the 2010-2011 season at Casa Mañana Sept. 11.

Donovan (Les Miserables) will star as Maria opposite Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast) as Captain Von Trapp in the beloved musical set during the dawn of WWII in Austria. Alan Coats will direct the production that will run through Sept. 19.

The cast will also feature Dennis Yslas as Max Detweiler, Brian Mathis as Herr Zeller, Christopher Deaton as von Schreiber, Deborah Brown as Frau Schmidt, Diana Sheehan Elsa Schraeder, Doug LoPachin as Franz, Mary McElree as Liesl, Cooper Rodgers as Friedrich, Caitlin Daniels as Louisa, Bobby Rochelle as Curt, Brooke Verbois as Brigitta, Lauren Magee as Marta, Cosette Cook as Gretl and Tyce Green as Rolf.

The ensemble will include Nancy Lamb, Theresa Thompson, Lorena Provencio, Jenny Tucker, Megan Blackmon, Emily Ford, Becky Turner, Sarah Franz, Sarah Comley, Tesia Kwarteng, Jason Kennedy, Brad Stephens, Jeff MacMullen and Justin Rapp.

The Sound of Music, the 1960 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, with a book penned by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The 1965 film adaptation earned five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

For tickets phone (817) 332-2272 or visit CasaMañana.



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Casa Comes Calling with MUSIC

The SOUND OF MUSIC at Casa MañanaI am pleased to announce I have accepted an offer to perform in the upcoming production of The Sound of Music at Casa Mañana in Fort Worth.  I will be part of the male ensemble in the legendary Rodgers & Hammerstein musical running September 11 – 19, 2010 for a total of 12 performances.

When Maria proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Through her music and singing she soon wins the children’s trust and their father’s affection. Maria and the Captain find themselves falling in love, but world events take precedent as Austria comes under the control of the Nazis.  This show is suitable for all audiences.

The Sound of Music … is based on the memoir of Maria von TrappThe Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Many songs from the musical have become standards, including the title song “The Sound of Music“, “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things“, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Do-Re-Mi“.

The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened in November 1959, and the show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals since then. It has also been made into an Academy Award-winning 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher PlummerThe Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.

The Sound of Music. (2010, June 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:48, June 21, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Sound_of_Music&oldid=368786883

Visit www.casamanana.org for more information and to buy tickets!

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Day Gettin’ Older for OK! at Artisan

Brad Stephens (Curly) and Amanda Gupton (Laurey)Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! begins the final week of performances today at Artisan Center Theater in Hurst, Texas.  Claimed to be the highest grossing production in the theater’s history by an Artisan representative, the show has enjoyed sold-out crowds for most of its seven-week run.  Laurey and Curly wave good-bye for the last time this Saturday evening, June 26, 2010.

I will be performing the role of Curly McLain this Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening. Performances are subject to change so keep an eye on my event calendar for my up-to-the-minute schedule. However, both casts are wonderful so come out and see the show when you can! In fact, why not see it twice?

Showtimes are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM. Click here for a map to the theater as Mapquest and Google Maps may mislead you. Tickets are available at the box-office or by calling (817) 284-1200. You may also buy tickets online at the Artisan Center Theater website – www.artisanct.com. Coupons for discounts on tickets can be acquired by clicking the Feature Actor Card below. Print them out and distribute them to your friends!

Get discounts on tickets!

Click here, print these out and give them to your friends for ticket discounts!

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Column Review: OKLAHOMA!

Here is the review published today by John Garcia’s The Column.  Congratulations to my amazing cast.  This is a testament of your outstanding work.  Thanks for an incredible show.  ~Brad   

Theater review: Oklahoma! at Artisan Center Theater in Hurst

by Lyle Huchton of John Garcia’s The Column  

The energy and spirit of this cast of ACT’s Oklahoma! produced an end result that was miraculous. 

Editor’s note: The press photos provided have Amanda Gupton and Zeke Branim as Laurey and Curly, respectively. However, in the reviewed performance, Brad Stephens played Curly.


In the early spring of 1943 opened a new musical that would make its mark on theater history. Based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs, this American “Folk Opera” pushed realism and reality to the forefront. It refused using the popular stage tactics of sight gags and scantily clad dancers. It instead focused on ballet by employing one of the leading choreographers of the time, Agnes De Mille. Producers held their breath on opening night almost positive that they had a flop on their hands. But the inspired music by Richard Rodgers and the fresh words of Oscar Hammerstein II won over audiences and critics alike. Lucky for us here in the metroplex we have Artisan Center Theater in Hurst to take aim at the target and mostly hit the mark with their version of Oklahoma! (playing through June 19). 

Director Dennis Canright did exactly what he should have with this script. He let it speak for itself. And judging from the response it got from an almost-packed house on Saturday night, he did the right thing. I am convinced this Oklahoma would ring a pure note if compared to that first premiere over 60 years ago. 

Aunt Eller (Linda Much) is on the porch of her homestead churning butter when we overhear someone singing, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” It is no other than Curly McLain (Brad Stephens) happening by to invite Laurey (Amanda Gupton) to be his date to the picnic box gathering. I have to be honest that I am no fan of a music track for a musical. I understand the practicality of one, especially this form of “canned music” in a theater as small as Artisan’s. There is no place to put an orchestra. But a music track always presents a problem with timing and that is exactly what happened here.   

In that first number and the one to follow, “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” I was tapping my foot in hopes that it would somehow help increase the tempo. Not only was it too slow but the track was so loud that it overpowered the singer. Not a very good way to start. 

However … all that was about to change. Bursting onto the stage like a pack of wild broncos is Will Parker (Drew Davis) and the rest of the male dance ensemble which included Nathan Smith, Tevin Cates, and Edward Ciaran Masen. 

Whoopin’ and hollarin’ and doing more hitch-kicks than The Kilgore Rangerettes, these boys with the help of Eddie Floresca’s lively choreography, pumped up the life back into this production with an energetic performance in the number, “Kansas City.”   

Drew Davis is excellent here in his role as Will. With controlled abandonment, he throws himself into the part and brings to light what I feel is Will’s message: Finding out the difference between a man’s worth and his value. 

Delivering one of the musicals most well known songs is Lacy Lambert as Ado Annie Carnes with “I Can’t Say No.” Lamenting over her inability to deny a man anything he asks for. She can’t seem to make up her mind over Will or her present suitor the peddler Ali Hakim (Jason Leyva). Miss Lambert brings such an innocence to Ado Annie you can’t help but fall in love with her.   

Mr. Leyva’s Ali Hakim is an example of the supporting cast’s commitment and talent. His characterization is completely fleshed out and believable. 

Now it is the girls’ dance and voice ensemble to take their turn at bat. Lead here by Miss Gupton (Laurey) the ladies hit a home run with a lovely rendition of “Many a New Day.”   

Curly and Laurey now decide that maybe they should go to the social together but need to be discreet as to not cause others to talk. They express their sentiments clearly in “People Will Say We’re in Love.” This upbeat and flirtatious song ended on a sad note that left me perplexed. 

Curly has to go inform Jud Fry (David Plybon) that he has lost his date to the gathering. Mr. Plybon plays against type and delivers a nicely understated, misunderstood Jud. Plybon and Stephens produce some of the best vocals of the evening with “Poor Jud” and “Lonely Room.”   

Closing out the end of the first act is a dance sequence famously known as “The Dream Ballet,” in which Laurie falls sleep and dreams of what her future would be like if she married Curly. 

Most productions use a dancer or “Dream Laurey” to perform this ballet. Miss Gupton was cast to dance this role. This decision helped clear up what is actually going on in this number. However I felt that this was one of the few places in this production that either needs to be tightened up or shaved down. There was no real focus and it played way too long.   

Act two starts off with another spirited song and dance number “The Farmer and the Cowmen” that also kicks off the auction of the food boxes for the picnic. The ensemble pulls out all the stops and shows once again that they are the driving force behind this production. Not before mentioned, there are other outstanding performances within this cast that include Linda Much as Aunt Eller, Gale McCray as Andrew Carnes, Meredith Stowe as Gertie Cummings, and Oliva Lamke for her dancing in “The Dream Ballet.” 

And of course, to top off the this well known R&H classic was the rousing title song “Oklahoma!” which was sung with full gusto by the full company.   

When I first sat down and got a good look at the set I was astounded. I was surrounded by a large expanse of blue sky with gold and green pastures all around me. It was like as if some one plopped me down in the middle of a field, next to a farmhouse, by a water tower. Scenic designers Dennis Canright and Jason Leyva smartly placed the larger pieces of the set in the corners. This allowed the center of the playing area to remain open for the action and the dancing. The design was enhanced by the beautiful scenic painting of Lilly Strapp and Michelle McElree. 

The daunting task of having to costume not only one cast but two (Artisan tends to double cast their productions) fell upon costume designer Nita Cadenhead. Just to let some of you know who do not pay attention to costumes as I do exactly what she was facing.   

*Editor’s full disclosure: Mr. Huchton is an award-winning costume designer who has designed for many companies, such as for the Dallas Opera and the Dallas Children’s Theater. For television he has earned two Emmy Award nominations for costume design for the TV series Barney

Take a cast of 30 times two — that would make 60 costumes to create. Then add two other changes for Laurey (including a bustle wedding dress) another change for Curly and Aunt Eller and about six or more for the ballet number and the total would be around 70 plus any added accessories. That’s quite a lot, huh?   

I am getting on my soap box a bit here because I can not help as to wonder why the costumes in this musical production looked like an afterthought in compassion to the other design elements (i.e. scenic, lighting, sound, etc.). Just something to think about… 

The second cast of ACT’s Oklahoma! may produce an altogether different experience. But if the same energy and spirit are brought to the table as the cast I observed Saturday night, then the end result will be as miraculous as the one I watched. 

Brad Stephens performs Tuesday, Thrusday and Saturday evenings.

I will be performing every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening of the run through June 26, 2010.  Performances are subject to change so keep an eye on my event calendar for my up-to-the-minute schedule.  However, both casts are wonderful so come out and see the show when you can!  In fact, why not see it twice? 

Showtimes are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM (see calendar at right).  Click here for a map to the theater as Mapquest and Google Maps may mislead you.  Tickets are available at the box-office or by calling (817) 284-1200.  You may also buy tickets online at the Artisan Center Theater website – www.artisanct.com.  Coupons for discounts on tickets can be acquired by clicking the Feature Actor Card below.  Print them out and distribute them to your friends!

Get discounts on tickets!

Click here, print these out and give them to your friends for ticket discounts!

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OKLAHOMA! Opens at Artisan

Brad Stephens (Curly) and Amanda Gupton (Laurey) in OKLAHOMA! at Artisan Center Theater

The wind comes sweepin’ down the plain this week as the highly anticipated Artisan Center Theater production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! opens Friday night.  Presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals, this classic of American musical theater is directed by Dennis Canright with choreography by Eddie Floresca.  Boasting two casts of talented actors, singers and dancers performing six shows a week, the double-cast production will premier Friday, May 14th and run through Saturday, June 26th, 2010. 

Alternating as Cowman Curly McLain is Zeke Branim and 2010 Column Award-winning actor Brad Stephens.  They are blessed to share the stage with two graceful actresses – Amanda Gupton and Michelle Carrillo sharing the role of Laurey Williams.  Other notable performers include Linda Much and Jenny Tucker (Aunt Eller); 2010 Column Award-winner Jason Leyva and Randy Sarver (Ali Hakim); Drew Davis and Michael Spencer (Will Parker); Lacey Lambert and Stephanie Carrillo (Ado Annie); with David Plybon and Neil Rogers as Jud Fry. 

Brad Stephens performs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings.

I will be performing every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening of the run beginning Saturday, May 15, 2010.  Performances are subject to change so keep an eye on my event calendar for my up-to-the-minute schedule.  However, both casts are wonderful so come out and see the show when you can!  In fact, why not see it twice? 

Showtimes are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM (see calendar at right).  Click here for a map to the theater as Mapquest and Google Maps may mislead you.  Tickets are available at the box-office or by calling (817) 284-1200.  You may also buy tickets online at the Artisan Center Theater website – www.artisanct.com.  Coupons for discounts on tickets can be acquired by clicking the Feature Actor Card below.  Print them out and distribute them to your friends! 

Get discounts on tickets!

Click here, print these out and give them to your friends for ticket discounts!

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