Tulsa’s Summertime Entertainment Peaks

The Tulsa Awards for Theater Excellence (TATE) held its annual gathering in June, recognizing theatre organizations in our area for quality work presented last season. Theatre adds so much richness to our cultural scene, and this was a great year. If you are not a regular at theatrical performances, I hope you will be in the future. If you are an aspiring thespian, or raising one, please contact local theater companies to see when auditions or workshops are scheduled.
Youth theatre takes the spotlight in the weeks ahead. Theatre Tulsa’s summer programs for children include two shows. The company’s Broadway beginners’ program welcomes children, ages 5 to 8, in addition to an older group, ages 8 to 14. No theatre training or audition is required. This summer, the students will perform Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.,” July 12-14. Advanced teenagers are part of Theatre Tulsa’s Broadway Bound bootcamp. Their project is “RENT, the School Edition,” July 19-21. All programs will take place at the Tulsa PAC.
Capping the month of July at the PAC is Choregus Productions’ Summer Heat International Dance Festival. I missed this festival in 2017 and regretted it even more when I heard about the marvelous dancers and fascinating programs. Manuel Vignoulle is an award-winning French choreographer, now based in New York. He formerly was with the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve and Cedar Lake Dance companies, which we have enjoyed at Summer Heat in the past. The Manuel Vignoulle-M/motions company will demonstrate their honed technique and athleticism during a world premiere slated for July 25.
Giordano Dance Chicago is featured on July 27. The company was founded by Gus Giordano in 1963. He specialized in jazz dancing and appeared on Broadway. The troupe, now run by his family, is referred to as “America’s original jazz dance company.”
On July 28, Fly Dance Company closes Choregus’ festival with its electric blend of street dance and classical music. They call their style “theatrical hip hop.”
The Exchange Choreography Festival, in conjunction with Summer Heat, returns July 26-27. It draws dance-makers from across the country who put on new works and participate in a conversation with audience members and each other about the performances and contemporary dance.
Looking ahead, singer and piano man Michael Cavanaugh pays tribute to the music of Billy Joel and Elton John at the PAC on Aug. 1. Cavanaugh was handpicked by Joel to appear in Broadway’s “Movin’ Out,” which showcased Joel’s music. Cavanaugh was the centerpiece of that mega-hit show.
Two Canadian heartthrobs appear at the BOK Center in July. Michael Buble’s appearance several years ago at the PAC, before he was over-the-moon popular, was one of the best pop concerts I have ever seen anywhere. This is Buble’s “Love” tour, and I know there will be lots of love to go around. His setlist includes “My Funny Valentine,” “When I Fall in Love,” “Sway” and “Cry Me a River.” Catch his show, July 15.
Like Buble, Shawn Mendes hails from Canada. He attracted fans in 2013 with a Vine clip he shared covering a Justin Bieber song. He’s only 21, but has racked up one hit after another, including “Stitches,” “Lost in Japan” (my favorite), and currently, “Senorita” (with Camila Cabello) and “If I Can’t Have You.”
In addition to his own music, the 25-song set will cover tunes by Coldplay, Whitney Houston and others. Along with his singing and songwriting, Mendes models for Calvin Klein and Armani. His concert is July 20.
Singer and TV personality Cardi B also garnered an audience through Vine. She’s the only woman to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album as a solo artist, and the only woman to have 10 singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The BOK Center welcomes Cardi B on July 23.
The River Spirit Casino Resort roars back with actor Tony Danza, July 19; REO Speedwagon, July 27; and the band Chicago, Aug. 1. Best known for TV’s “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss,” along with a memorable presence on Broadway in heavies like “The Iceman Cometh.” Danza presents a light-hearted show that blends storytelling and American Songbook music.
Both REO Speedwagon and Chicago have toured every year they have been together. REO Speedwagon marked its 40th anniversary in 2007. Chicago’s music spans six decades!
Formed in 2009, The Head and the Heart, an Indie Folk band from Seattle, plays at the Brady Theatre, July 15. Country music and folk singer Robert Earl Keen appears at the Cain’s, July 19.
Across town at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, The Marshall Tucker Band takes the stage on July 28, followed on Aug. 1 by Sugarland. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland won five consecutive CMA Awards for Vocal Duo of the Year. I enjoy Nettles work. She has the most pleasing, engaging voice and great stage presence.
For other summertime options: spend evenings listening to music (free) at the Guthrie Green, attend a Drillers’ game, and join the Circle Cinema in celebrating its 91st year. Tulsa’s only non-profit theatre stages a film festival, July 11-15. Festival programming will have an emphasis on independent films and filmmakers who have an Oklahoma connection. Films include documentaries, silent films and classics.
The livin’ is easy this time of year. Have fun tasting, exploring and savoring the entertainment coming our way in the weeks ahead.