Oklahoma! set for Lyric Opera of Chicago

Apr 15, 2013
Oklahoma Chicago Lyic Opera

"It's the musical that changed musicals - the show that set the bar for all musicals that followed."

So says Gary Griffin, the acclaimed director whose new production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! will premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago Saturday, May 4. The new production, which includes the original choreography by the legendary Agnes de Mille, will have 16 performances (including seven matinees)

May 4 -19 at the Civic Opera House, with tickets ranging from $32 to $153.

"This Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II - their debut collaboration - marks its 70th anniversary in 2013 and is one of the greatest American musical stage works," says Anthony Freud, Lyric's general director. "We are delighted to have Oklahoma! make its Lyric Opera debut in a new production by Gary Griffin as part of Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative. We are also excited to have this first-rate cast and production team currently in rehearsal at Lyric for this company premiere."

Freud notes that 37 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra will perform the original orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett. The production will feature a 24-person singer-dancer ensemble (including 12 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus) plus three solo dancers.

Oklahoma! is the first of five classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals that Lyric will present with its American Musical Theater Initiative. No other opera company in the world has made a long-term commitment to producing American musical theater on an annual basis.

"This is the first series of its kind," declares Ted Chapin, president and executive director of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization: an Imagem Company. Lyric will premiere The Sound of Music(2014), Carousel (2015), The King and I (2016), and South Pacific (2017). Casting and artistic teams for each of the musicals will be announced in the future.

"I am thrilled that this major American opera company would devote the same sort of passion and artistry to the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein that they already give to Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner," says Chapin. "Lyric's plan to present five completely new productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals over five consecutive years is unique and monumental. It's a great way to launch Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative. For Lyric Opera to recognize the role that musicals from Broadway's Golden Age have in the world of 21st-century lyric theater is remarkable - and a great honor for us."