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Published by The Journal Record – Read original article here

Originally published on June 24, 2015

Around Town: O is for outstanding

From the first O of Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ to the final O of its title song, Oklahoma!, the Lyric Theatre cast had the opening-night audience in hand. The theater-goers had come to celebrate our great state and the love in the air was overwhelming.

What’s not to love? The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is based on an earlier play in our state’s history. The story traces our state’s beginnings with cowboys and farmers trying to live together.

Lyric Theater Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron, who directed Oklahoma!, was ecstatic at the almost record-breaking size of the audience and its responses.

The large and talented cast probably could have sung the first song and then skipped to the final song and the crowd still would have been happy. They were all eager to jump up and sing Oklahoma! along with the players.

Especially outstanding is the dream sequence choreographed by Jo Rowan, head of dance at the Ann Lacy School of Dance at Oklahoma City University. So touching, so emotional. Brian J. Marcum deserves credit for the overall song and dance choreography. A special applause should go to music director David Andrews Rogers.

The large cast filled the stage at Civic Center Music Hall and a highlight is the portrayal of Aunt Eller by Julie Johnson, a three-year Lyric veteran with an impressive career in regional theater. She is perfect in her role.

Another winner is Morgan Mabry in the comedic role of Ado Annie, the gal who can’t say no – to men. She sings. She dances. She is a winner. And, of course, there’s always Vince Leseney, a 15-year veteran with the Lyric who sings so well. This year he handles the delightful The Farmer and The Cowman.

Lyric’s presentation of Oklahoma! is billed as the officially authorized production. And, of course, that official stuff began years ago when Gov. George Nigh led the Legislature and the Rodgers and Hammerstein folks to the deal of allowing the play’s title song to become our state’s official song. Interestingly, Oklahoman Lynn Riggs, who wrote the original play, Green Grow the Lilacs, specified that a percentage of proceeds from every production of the play should go to medical research in the state.

Oklahoma! will play through Saturday. For tickets, call (405) 524-9312.