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Published by The Norman Transcript – Read original article here

Originally published on June 19, 2015

An OKLAHOMA! homecoming at Lyric Theatre

“OKLAHOMA!,” the musical that originated the state song and revolutionized musical theatre with an unprecedented Broadway run after its 1943 release, comes sweeping down the plain to the Civic Center Music Hall this summer.

Running June 23 through 27, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s production brings together a cast and creative team with Oklahoma roots. The first of four Lyric productions at the Civic Center in 2015, the classic still means a lot to musical theatre fans and to the state.

“After five years of living in the state of Oklahoma, I’m elated to direct this music theatre classic,” said

Michael Baron, Lyric’s producing artistic director and director of this production. “Lyric is honored

that this production has been named the state’s official production of the musical by Governor Mary Fallin and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, and we will be sure to give this state a production it can be proud of.”

The production stars Oklahoma natives Mateja Govich as the handsome cowboy Curley, Christopher Rice as lovable Will Parker, and Kasey Yeargain as the mysterious Jud Fry.

Govich has been seen on Lyric’s stage in “A Little Night Music,” “Ragtime” and Lyric’s “A Christmas Carol” and performed on Broadway in Roundabout Theatre Company’s “Cabaret.”

“I grew up here … My dad was an OU professor for 22 years and my mother still lives here,” Govich said. For him, and the many Oklahomans involved it still has a special significance.

“It’s our state song, which you hear if you go to OU games. It’s from the musical. I think for people involved in theatre, it’s neat, not just because it’s named ‘Oklahoma!’ and it takes place in Oklahoma, but it was a groundbreaking musical in its own right. It was one of the first musicals where the music actually propelled the plot and had a full ballet involved … So, I think it’s meaningful to people who enjoy theatre and are from Oklahoma. It puts us on the map, as it were. There’s not anybody in New York talking about ‘Kansas’ the musical.”

Govich spent time on the scene in New York, but found himself drawn back home when he started a family. He’s been in Lyric productions since the early 2000s and doesn’t see it as that much different – at least not when it comes to quality.

“I’ve performed with three Tony Award nominees and one Tony (Award) winner on stage at the Civic Center at Lyric,” Govich said. “The talent that they’re able to put on stage and the production quality, they’re Broadway caliber. If you haven’t seen a Lyric production, they’re not small community theatre. Not that there’s anything wrong with community theatre, but they have large budgets and a fantastic reputation.”

Rice, a graduate of Lyric’s Thelma Gaylord Academy and the University of Oklahoma (2011), has been a swing for “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway for the past year. Rice’s Lyric credits include “The Producers,” “A Chorus Line” and “The Who’s Tommy.” Now, he too makes his way back home for a chance to be a part of “Oklahoma!”

“I’ve done shows (at Lyric) off and on my whole life. This will be my first time to do a show there since coming back from New York City,” Rice said. “It’s definitely good to be home. I’ve spent so much time in New York over the years, it’s definitely nice to come back to my home state and be a part of a musical I grew up on. It’s kind of full circle in many ways. The original film inspired me a lot to become a performer.”

Rowan, the dance chairman of the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management, joins the production as the choreographer of the dream ballet. Music direction is by David Andrews Rogers, who has worked with Lyric for over the past 20 years.

Tickets start at $25. Season tickets, which include tickets to Lyric’s three other productions at the Civic Center Music Hall- “Mary Poppins,” “Big Fish” and “Billy Elliot” – are still available. Purchase tickets by visiting Lyric’s box office at 1727 NW 16th St., calling 405-524-9312 or visiting