By NANCY HERMANN
TALENTED CAST: Jeremy Geiger and Rebecca Blackmore star in American Theatre Company’s “The Taming of the Shrew” performed on the lawn at Philbrook May 27-July 4.
When a friend asked me recently to join her at a Moody Blues concert at the “Old Lady on Brady,” I happily accepted, but I did wonder, considering the age of the band, if the concert would be more rocking chair than rock.
The concert was better than I could have imagined. One quip made by the Moody Blues drummer, Graeme Edge, who had just turned 70, was that he’d lived through the sixties twice. The band gave love and the audience returned it. Encore songs flowed one into another. Although a little rough around the edges, which is part of its appeal, the historic Brady brandishes charm. Even with a sold-out crowd of more than 2,000, the theater managed to feel cozy.
The Tulsa Performing Arts Center was built 35 years ago when citizens thought the Brady had outlived its viability as an arts performance venue. The now hosts 14 of Tulsa’s arts groups. With the Center bringing in acts that draw an arena of fans, the Brady with a niche of its own, the Cain’s booked to the hilt with club bands and the focused on the arts, downtown is an entertainment Mecca. And the venue options for Tulsans don’t stop there.
Open-air entertainment can be enjoyed when the Arts and Humanities Council celebrates its 20th anniversary of Oklahoma Chautauqua from June 7 through June 11. This year’s theme is “It’s Make Believe: Hollywood’s Golden Age” and the event takes place on the -Tulsa campus under a big tent. Admission is free.
The historical figures portrayed by Chautauqua actors this year are The Birth of a Nation’s controversial filmmaker D.W. Griffith, portrayed by Dr. Doug Mishler June 7; gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Karen Vuranch) June 8; African-American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson (Joseph Bundy) June 9; Hank Finken as the comic W. C. Fields June 10; and the enterprising Walt Disney portrayed by Dr. William Worley on June 11.
The Joint at The Hard Rock continues on a roll with Huey Lewis on June 17 and Trace Atkins on June 18.
This month in the PAC’s largest theatre, Chapman Music Hall, the sold-out return of Broadway’s Cats is followed by another Celebrity Attractions offering, 9 to 5: The Musical June 14-19. This touring Broadway show features Season Three American Idol runner-up (to Fantasia) Diane DeGarmo in the role Dolly Parton made famous. Parton wrote the music for this production.
The Trust’s annual SummerStage festival gets into high gear in June and continues through July. This is a showcase of diverse talent with affordable ticket prices. There are more than 20 performances in June alone, so check out TulsaPac.com for the full roster. I’m looking forward to Sweet and Hot’s Hi-Fi Hits of the ‘50s with those cool-cat crooners Rebecca Ungerman, Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Cindy Cain. That’s June 16-19.
The Musical Theatre series, which is part of SummerStage at the , stages a trio of shows already on my calendar: Evita, June 18–July 9, The Light in the Piazza July 2–10 and Trouble in Tahiti June 19–July 5. devotes a year to getting these productions onto the stage. Singers are brought in from across the U.S. and blended with local talent. takes us from Eva Peron’s tumultuous Argentina (Evita) to Florence and Rome, 1953, in The Light on the Piazza, where a mother must handle her daughter’s romantic entanglement with a local.
I recall when Tulsa Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, a short opera, and was happy to learn is staging it this summer. This piece suggests that not every marriage is paradise. Trouble in Tahiti will be paired with a cabaret that takes a light-hearted look at marriage.
One event that will be perfect for The Brady is the acoustic guitar concert on June 24 with Lyle Lovett and John Hyatt. Lovett gave an amazing concert last year at the . He truly is a likeable, gentle, private person with an easy manner that complements his music. John Hiatt is a rock guitarist, singer, songwriter and pianist, whose songs have been sung by the likes of Eric Clapton, Keith Urban and Joe Cocker. I know it will be a solid show.
Whether you are at the Brady with Lyle, under a tent with Louella, stretched out on the lawn at Philbrook, or at the Center, the ballpark or a black box theater, you are part of Tulsa’s ever-expanding entertainment scene. Summer is rocking!
Nancy Hermann is Director of Marketing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.