January 3, 2011/FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNCSA TO PRESENT ALL-SCHOOL PRODUCTION OF RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S "OKLAHOMA!"
Directed by Gerald Freedman
Musical Direction by John Mauceri
WINSTON-SALEM –The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will present an all-school production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! in Spring 2011. This faithful restaging of the original 1943 Broadway production will open at UNCSA’s Roger L. Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem on April 28, 2011, and will continue through May 8. A special Gala Benefit performance will be presented on Friday, April 29. Proceeds from the production and the Gala will benefit all five arts schools at UNCSA.
When Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943, it transformed musical theatre with its innovative integration of words, music, dance and design. UNCSA’s restaging will include the original Agnes de Mille choreography as re-created by Gemze de Lappe, a renowned dancer and teacher who performed in the original Broadway and touring productions of Oklahoma! and worked closely with de Mille for many years. In addition, UNCSA has extensively researched all aspects of the original production and will painstakingly recreate the original costumes and stage design.
"An archival restoration of all the production elements of Oklahoma! will give our students and our audiences a chance to experience the first American musical to have a single artistic goal in telling its story through music, drama, dance and scenery, elevating the genre into a great collaborative art form, not a medium for separate songs and dances,” said John Mauceri, Chancellor of UNCSA and Musical Director for Oklahoma! “It is our hope that by experiencing this collaboration, one that will include the exact number of musicians in the pit and a newly restored score, as well as the supervision of Gemze de Lappe, our students will be inspired to conclude that true collaboration at the service of great material, honestly presented and deeply felt, is what we aspire to do and is as viable as anything using the most advanced technologies of our time.”
Theodore Chapin, President and Executive Director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, said, “For John Mauceri to conceive the idea of an Oklahoma! as close to exactly how it was when it opened may seem like a simple idea, but no one has had it before. It is sure to add an invaluable piece to both the historic and performance history of a musical that has long been acknowledged as the one that galvanized an entertainment genre into an American art form.”
Oklahoma! will be directed by Gerald Freedman, Dean of the School of Drama at UNCSA. Freedman is an award-winning director and educator highly regarded internationally for productions of classic dramas, musicals, operas and new plays. As Jerome Robbins’ assistant, Freedman directed the scene work for the original production of West Side Story as well as Gypsy, and conceived Hair for the Public Theatre. Having directed major revivals of the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein, he looks forward bringing this legendary musical to life on the Stevens Center stage.
Musical Director for Oklahoma! will be internationally renowned conductor John Mauceri, Chancellor of UNCSA. Mauceri’s distinguished and extraordinarily varied career has brought him not only to the world’s greatest opera companies and symphony orchestras, but also to the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as the most prestigious halls of academia. A recipient of a Tony, an Outer Critics’ Circle Award,a Drama Desk and two Emmy Awards, Mauceri has worked closely with the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization on numerous projects including the first-ever recording of all the Overtures from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals (“Opening Night: The Complete Overtures”) as well as a restoration of the film score from The King and I, featuring Julie Andrews and Ben Kingsley, which received the Deutsche Schallplatten Prize in 1993. He was Music Director and Musical Supervisor of three Broadway musicals: Candide (1973), On Your Toes (1983) and Song and Dance (1985).
UNCSA faculty from the School of Design & Production are working from archival photography, extant designs, published records and the supervisory input of the legendary Gemze de Lappe, who danced in the original national tour (1943), the original Broadway production (during its run, in 1946), the replication of the original production for London’s Drury Lane Theatre (1947), the Australian premiere (1948) and the subsequent European production in the early 1950s. She was frequently called upon to teach and train the actors and the singers in the various productions seen throughout the world. All the scenic designs of Lemuel Ayers are under the supervision of UNCSA faculty member, Howard Jones, and have already been painted and built on campus by the students. The 110 costumes designs of Miles White have been recreated by UNCSA faculty member Bill Brewer, along with Christine Turbitt. The fabrics have been bought and many are being dyed and appliquéd to represent the brilliantly colored and varied textures of the 1943 production and its various replications. Every costume is being built from newly recreated patterns and by the students.
“Miles White is generally considered the father of Broadway costume design,” Chancellor Mauceri said. “We were amazed to find the original swatch book at the Museum of the City of New York and, together with some very creative sleuthing and the very precise memories of Gemze de Lappe, the public will experience something quite astonishing and brilliant. In addition, Lemuel Ayers brought a sensibility of the WPA artists and the folk art of Grandma Moses, as well as the turbulence of dust bowl artist, Alexander Hogue and the sweep of regionalists, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. Together with Agnes de Mille’s choreography, the scenic and costume designs continued and expanded the story being told by Hammerstein’s words and Rodgers music, as if one person had created the production.”
The cast for Oklahoma! is drawn from the students at UNCSA, America’s first public arts conservatory. The mission of the school is to train young people to become professional artists. Alumni from UNCSA can be found throughout the professional world, on Broadway, in Hollywood, at the greatest opera houses and ballet and dance companies, and as designers and managers in virtually every field of the performing arts.
The full performance schedule for Oklahoma! is: April 28, 8 p.m.; April 29, 7:30 p.m.; April 30, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; May 1, 2 p.m.; May 4-6, 8 p.m.; May 7, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; May 8, 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the UNCSA Box Office by calling 336.721.1945, or online at www.uncsa.edu/performances.
Complete Quotation from Theodore Chapin, President of R & H Organization. 9/28/10
“There is no better person to spearhead this unique production of OKLAHOMA! than John Mauceri. From my first days here at Rodgers & Hammerstein, John has been a tireless pioneer in the American Musical Theater, bringing his extraordinary musicianship to a world that at the time, hadn't really begun to get the artistic recognition it deserved. But one step at a time, John has been at the forefront of the movement, starting with the Broadway revival of ON YOUR TOES in 1983 (that was his idea), through his years at the Hollywood Bowl where he created the most imaginative programs blending musical theater (sometimes concert versions of entire shows) with music from the American repertoire (who else would have thought to play "Victory At Sea" as a prelude to a segment from SOUTH PACIFC placing the audience in the proper aquatic geography?) He garnered the trust of the Rodgers and Hammerstein family along the way, prompting the first-ever recording of all the Overtures from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals - still one of my all-time favorite albums. For him to conceive the idea of an OKLAHOMA! as close to exactly how it was then, may seem like a simple idea, but no one has had it before. It is sure to add an invaluable piece to both the historic and performance history of a musical that has long been acknowledged as the one that galvanized an entertainment genre into an American art form.”
For ticket information for the April 29 special gala, which includes Prime Orchestra seating, contact the Office of Advancement at 336-770-3330.
Ticket prices are: Prime Orchestra, $100; Orchestra Center, $63 for adults and $49 for children 13 and under; Orchestra Sides and Front Balcony, $54 for adults and $40 for children 13 and under; Rear Orchestra and Rear Balcony, $43 for adults and $30 for children 13 and under. For the best deal in town take advantage of the great prices on Oklahoma! “Family Four Pack” (2 adults and 2 children) for the evening performances on Wednesday, May 4, and Thursday, May 5, only: $150 for Orchestra Side/Front Balcony and $110 for Rear Balcony. Please note that the ARTSCARD cannot be used for Oklahoma! Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount on every full-priced ticket. The 10% discount for groups may not be combined with any other offer.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.
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