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Originally published on Ocotber 24, 2015

Successful world premiere musical at Lyric on the Plaza

No matter where or when you were born, being 18 is hard. Regardless of how insignificant things might look from the outside, to a lusting teenager, everything is a matter of life and death.

BERNICE BOBS HER HAIR is a charming look at the lengths one will go to make or break a sparking relationship or a budding reputation. This world premiere, directed by Michael Baron with assistant direction by Jennifer Teel, is sure to live well beyond its opening at the Lyric Theatre.

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first published work, a short story of the same name, BERNICE BOBS HER HAIR follows the summer love life of Bernice who is visiting relatives for the season. At first, she is poorly received by the local young people who see her as an arrogant bore. Petitioning her cousin Marjorie for help, she slowly astonishes, surprises and wows her way up the teenage social ladder to become the most popular girl in town. When it finally comes down to who will get the guy, both girls pull out all the stops.

Celeste Rose hit her mark in the title role of “Bernice.” Her stunning voice and honest acting added to the grace of her performance.

Rose was believable, funny, and charming throughout the musical and rarely let her aim down.

Sarah Quinn Taylor, playing the hedonistic cousin, was a delightful “Marjorie” to Rose’s Bernice. Giving a solid energy to the role, she was without a doubt the driving voice of the performance. Her singing was clear, beautiful and enriching; each song was a wonder when sung by Taylor.

Mandi Jiran (Mrs. Harvey) and Vince Leseney (Mr. Harvey) were a pleasant addition, adding moments of delightful comedy throughout the show. Russell McCook (Warren) along with Brandon Block, Travis James Burch, Hayden Gray and Stephen Stark as his male entourage were adept in their purpose of providing great entertainment but left the audience wishing for more depth and individuality to match their otherwise wonderful performance. The same can be said for Madeline Dannenberg, Virginia Newsome, Keslie Ward and Kayley Were as the female entourage who also did a splendid job.

While there are occasional technical let-downs, the scenic design by Lee Savage was beautifully apt. Placing the live band amidst the actors worked very well, creating good balance; music direction by David Dabbon provided a beautifully blended sound.

The music by Adam Gwon was delightful and charming. Each song seemed to surpass the last with its endearing melodies. The crisp lyrics by Gwon and Julia Jordan served as a driving force of the story. Despite an overly ambitious onstage costume change at the top of the show, Baron’s direction was overall very effective.

This delightful musical is well done and a welcome addition to the Oklahoma stage. The last performance is 8 p.m. Oct. 24. Tickets can be found online at or by calling the box office at (405) 524-9310.


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