Tulsa Theatre Companies Build on Tradition


HITCHCOCK THRILLER: The national touring production of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps plays at the PAC Nov. 2-3, presented by the PAC Trust.

Courtesy Tulsa PAC

According to national magazines, Tulsa has become known as a hotbed for music. With Cain’s Ballroom, the Center, the casinos, the new Guthrie Green, the Jazz Hall of Fame, our Performing Arts Center and a myriad of nightspots, we have artists of all ages performing the widest possible range of music. I’ve long thought that Tulsa should be marketed as an arts destination, and I believe that is how we will eventually set ourselves apart not only from communities our size, but in the nation overall.

We’ve been able to distinguish ourselves with music. Why not theatre? At the alone, we have 12 local organizations that stage drama, comedies and musicals, and there are several excellent theatre companies that present at other locations. Despite the friction between groups that flares up every now and then, I believe that everyone involved in Tulsa theatre is pulling for the same thing – a proud theatre tradition. Whether local audiences favor one of the classics, like Arsenic and Old Lace, or something edgy, like The Eight Reindeer Monologues, our theatre community gives entertainment-seekers a chance to get away from their computers, phones and televisions, come together with others, and witness the creation of something special. I’m certain there is a market for that kind of experience, and I think Tulsa can become known for it.

An example of how Tulsa theatre companies are collaborating to make something extraordinary is the current production of Hamlet. Odeum Theatre Company and Theatre Tulsa are presenting Shakespeare’s masterwork with both a youth and adult cast. This idea is rich and right in so many ways, and you wouldn’t want to pass up a rare opportunity to see Hamlet performed in Tulsa. It continues its run at the through Nov. 3.

Also at the Nov. 2-3 is Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.The play uses the script from Hitchcock’s 1935 movie in which a young man is pulled into a shadowy, dangerous situation by a woman he doesn’t know. Produced originally in London, where it received the prestigious Olivier Award, the comedy/spy thriller features four people performing a multitude of roles. This is a national touring company brought to Tulsa by the Trust. Adding touring theatre to the local mix can only enhance Tulsa’s theatre credentials.

Theatre Pops’ principal Randall Whalen has been a force for good theatre in Tulsa for decades. He lives for it, and you can see that in all he does. This month, Randy directs Theatre Pops’ presentation of the play November, written by David Mamet about a slipshod American President who works in what seems like a Washington, D.C. fun house. President Smith knows he’s hated by both sides of the aisle, and the citizens, and that he’s bound to lose the November election. To get funding for his presidential library, he tries to bribe the spokesperson from the national turkey association right before Thanksgiving.

November has a lot going for it, like Mike Pryor as the President. You’ve probably seen Mike in the one-man play SantaLand Diaries or heard him sing and act in Forever Plaid. He’s one of Tulsa’s finest. Notables in the cast include Lisa Cole and David Virili, among others. Playwright Mamet can get raunchy, so just know that ahead of time. Catch November right after the election, Nov. 8-11, when you may need some cheering up.

There are numerous must-see productions taking place at the in November, like Tulsa Symphony’s concert, “Green,” Nov. 3; Celebrity Attractions’ Mary Poppins, Nov. 13-18; health guru Andrew Weil, presented by Tulsa Town Hall, Nov. 16; and Chamber Music Tulsa’s Zodiac Trio, Nov. 17; but I wanted to mention one more theatre group, Encore! Theatre Arts. The company was founded by Josh and Mindy Barker. Their focus is children’s programs, and they have enjoyed much success. For something new this holiday season, take your children to see A Christmas Story, Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 1.

When you are shopping for holiday gifts this season, think about giving theatre tickets. The gift of experience is one that is treasured and remembered, and you can support Tulsa’s growing art scene in the process.

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

Updated 10-29-2012

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