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Lyric has a long history of tradition and excellence, and Terry Runnels is no stranger to any of it.

Terry spent his first season with Lyric in 1967 as a member of the summer ensemble. He went on to play both leading and ensemble roles in many more productions. 50 years later, his resume is as long as Lyric’s.



Terry Runnels as “Tony” in WEST SIDE STORY (1969). Lyric Theatre Archives


Terry was first bitten by the theatre bug when he was cast as “The Boy” in Oklahoma City University’s production of THE FANTASTICKS in 1966. Since then, he has performed in or directed around 10 productions of the show. It’s only fitting that he is now playing the role of “The Old Actor” in Lyric’s current production of THE FANTASTICKS.


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Terry Runnels and Hassan Nazari-Robati as “The Old Actor” and “Mortimer” in THE FANTASTICKS (2016). Photo by KO Rinearson.


Terry moved to New York City in 1981 to further pursue his acting career. From there, he booked 3 National Tours of ANNIE, a National Tour of SOUND OF MUSIC, and made his Broadway debut in the 1983 revival of ZORBA, starring Anthony Quinn. After his time on tour with ANNIE, Terry returned to Oklahoma to reprise his role as Daddy Warbucks in Lyric’s 1984 production. He performed the role over 400 times between touring and other contracts.



Terry Runnels as “Oliver Warbucks” and Ashley Mortimer as “Annie” in ANNIE (1984). Lyric Theatre Archives.


When Terry made the move to NYC, he had no intention of returning. But, life never goes as expected, and he returned to Oklahoma for good five years ago. He has found many opportunities to perform, including the Oklahoma Senior Follies. This is an annual performance self-described as “a Zeigfeld-inspired extravaganza featuring Oklahoma’s greatest senior stars of stage, screen, television, and radio.” Terry has both performed in and directed the Follies.

I am happy to have been a part of Lyric’s early history and still feel a part of the family. The new theater companies, the popularity of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Oklahoma Senior Follies which I direct and perform in, the wonderful dance and art scene, the growth of the arts in the local colleges and universities make me proud to be counted among the working artists in the area. Thanks Lyric for continuing on and giving the impetus for change and growth.” -Terry Runnels

With a resume as long as his, it’s hard to imagine Terry could have a favorite role, but he was able to pick out a few. His top 5 are Don Quixote in MAN OF LA MANCHA, Sweeney Todd in SWEENEY TODD, Daddy Warbucks in ANNIE!, Charlemagne in PIPPIN, and Papa Charlie in SHENANDOAH.


Terry Runnels as "Papa Charlie" in SHENANDOAH 1977). Lyric Theatre Archives.

Terry Runnels as “Papa Charlie” in SHENANDOAH (1977). Lyric Theatre Archives.

We love having Terry as an integral part of Lyric history, and look forward to seeing him in many more productions at Lyric.

See Terry as “The Old Actor” in THE FANTASTICKS, running April 6-24, 2016 at the Plaza Theatre.

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