Tulsa Continues to be a Center of Arts, Culture


PETER PAN: Former Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby reprises her title role when Celebrity Attractions presents the musical Peter Pan, Mar. 5-10, based on J. M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who won’t grow up.

Courtesy Tulsa PAC

You might have heard that the mayor’s office is interested in rebranding the city with a concept that captures the essence of Tulsa. “A New Kind of Energy,” which is our current slogan, was a great idea, but maybe we could update that with an arts focus? I’m thinking, “Cool and Creative,” or “Cultural Center of America.”

How many cities in the middle of America have an opera company the stature of Tulsa Opera? The company was founded in 1948, but the first opera performed in Tulsa dates back to 1904. There may not have been roads, but there was opera. Continuing a tradition of staging grand opera while also embracing new work, Tulsa Opera produced the exquisite Dead Man Walking last March. This year, the American work selected by the Opera for the 2012-13 season is The Most Happy Fella. You can catch it Feb. 23, and Mar. 1 and 3.

The Most Happy Fella is set in a Napa Valley vineyard in the 1920s. Fun already? Think of this production like a fine wine blend — part classic Broadway and part opera. It was written by Frank Loesser, who is famous for Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In this piece, a middle-aged Italian-American vintner demonstrates that, like carefully aged wine, men of a certain maturity are the best choice. The role of Tony, sung by Metropolitan Opera baritone Kim Josephson, woos a San Francisco waitress through letters that he and his young, handsome foreman, Joe, have penned. Smitten by the love letters and a photo of Joe, the girl agrees to marry Tony. When she arrives at the vineyard, she is more than a little surprised (mamma mia!) and still attracted to Joe (Metropolitan Opera standout Christopher Feigum). Oklahoma soprano Katrina Thurman stars as Rosabella.

March at the Tulsa is always packed. Theatre North continues its run of August Wilson’s Radio Golf (Feb. 23-24 and Mar. 1-2), and you might want to explore events outside the mainstream, like Living Arts of Tulsa’s New Genre Festival, Mar. 1-2. The Festival’s Particular is a dance work performed by Lostwax Multimedia Dance from Rhode Island. Another stimulating and entertaining option is the 24-Hour Play Festival (Mar. 9), during which writers, actors and directors team up to dream up a 10-minute play in a 24-hour period. The award-winning Playhouse Tulsa is in charge of this one.

Also at the beginning of the month is Of Mice and Men, staged by American Theatre Company. I was excited when I learned that Brian Rattlingourd and Nate Gavin, directed by Dan McGeehan, would be featured in this John Steinbeck classic. That’s a perfect storm of talent. Of Mice and Men plays Mar. 1-3 and 7-9.

Broadway returns with Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan, Mar. 5-10. The show draws children to the theater, but this isn’t just for kids. Olympic gymnast and Tony-nominee Cathy Rigby has owned the role for 23 years, and the score comprises songs many of us have grown up with. My personal favorite is Never, Never Land by the incredible Jule Styne.

The musical Oliver! hasn’t played in Tulsa for a long time, and it, too, is filled with songs that we all know well: “As Long as He Needs Me,” “Consider Yourself,” and “I’d Do Anything.” Theatre Tulsa brings this 1960 musical to the PAC’s Doenges Theatre Mar. 15-23.

On Mar. 16 Tulsa Symphony hosts pianist Robin Sutherland and guest conductor Daniel Hege, both local favorites. Principal pianist for the San Francisco Symphony for 40 years, Sutherland was a popular guest artist for many years at Bartlesville’s OK Mozart festival. He will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21.

Chamber Music Tulsa welcomes Quartetto Di Cremona Mar. 17. This celebrated quartet from Milan, Italy, will stop at the during their first U.S. tour. The quartet will perform rarely-heard work from Italian composers Boccherini, Verdi, Puccini and Cherubini.

Ragtime is back! We’ve been without Ragtime at the for several years, but that will be remedied Mar. 19. Ragtime for Tulsa presents Brian Holland and Paul Asaro, two of the world’s finest ragtime/early jazz pianists. These consummate artists have brought this American music genre to audiences from Switzerland to Rwanda.

The Trust offers an electrifying end to our March entertainment calendar with Step Afrika! Mar. 23. The group’s art form, achieved through intricate rhythms and sounds — footsteps, claps and spoken word — has been enjoyed at the White House and Lincoln Center in the U.S. and on several continents throughout the world.

Free noontime Brown Bag It concerts are also in the March mix, and this is just a taste of what is happening at the this month. Simultaneously many theatre venues throughout Tulsa all contribute to an ever-expanding, vibrant arts scene. “Cultural Center of America” would not be bragging.

Nancy Hermann is Director of Marketing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

Updated 02-22-2013

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