This is post number 8 in our 50 Post for 50 Days series- see what it’s all about here!
When you see a show produced by Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, you know that you’re seeing the fruits of hard work by the cast and crew on that particular show. What is less noticeable is the impact of approximately twenty individuals, who work at Lyric full time. These individuals (including me!) all make sure that each show is a great experience for our audiences, raise money to produce the next show, produce and distribute marketing materials, run our training programs at the Thelma Gaylord Academy, and so much more.
As a part of our “50 Posts for 50 Years” series, you get to meet several of our staff members and hear their Lyric story. Today, you’re getting the opportunity to meet Paula Stover, Executive Director, and Ashley Wells, Associate Artistic Director. Both of these women have always enjoyed theatre- Ashley, in particular, was a performer- but have now made their career around theatre. I hope you’ll enjoy their stories!
Paula Stover, Executive Director
1. Did you have a background in theatre? I went to high school in Tulsa and the Tulsa high schools had then, and now, large, lavish musical revues each year. I performed in the shows and directed scenes. I was also in a play during high school and hated that – too afraid I would forget my lines. At OU I performed in Sooner Scandals and in skits in the sorority. When I began teaching school I had my classes act out scenes from Dickens GREAT EXPECTATIONS each year and I always took them to Shakespeare plays on field trips. So, if you count those things as a theatre background, there it is.
2. Describe to me what you do for Lyric. The Lyric Executive Director is the coordinator of all things Lyric. Lyric has such talented and business savvy people on staff the director needs to keep in the loop of all the areas yet stay out of a person’s way so they can do their job. I am also the liaison person between the staff and the board.
3. What do you love about Lyric? Everything!
4. Out of all the shows that you’ve seen at Lyric, what is your favorite? I do not have one favorite but there are a few that stand out for me. The first is OKLAHOMA! during the Centennial. Lyric received extra funding for this show and we were able to have Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase, two of Broadway’s biggest stars, in the lead roles. The funding also allowed us to have the full orchestration and do more with the set. It was a show everyone remembers. The other huge standouts for me were CHICAGO, RAGTIME, and CABARET. The cast, costumes, sets put those shows in a special category for me.
5. What’s your favorite memory that involves Lyric? Meeting so many wonderful people.
Ashley Wells, Associate Artistic Director
1. Did you have a background in theatre? I do have a background in theatre. I went to OCU as a Dance Major and then completed my schooling at a perform arts conservatory in Dallas. I have performed in many regional theatres, toured the country and been on Broadway
2. Describe to me what you do for Lyric. I am the Associate Artistic Director. I handle all the casting for our shows. I direct and choreograph both the Civic Center shows and the Plaza shows. I also cast & direct our Interactive program. Any extra performing that is done throughout the year I take care of. Plus handle any requests for performers that we might receive. I also run all of our auditions.
3. What do you love about Lyric? I love the top rate quality that we provide our Oklahoma audiences. I love that we have such a wonderful reputation in NY with the actors. I love the family feeling that Lyric has with its employees. I also love the opportunities that we provide our University students. They get the opportunity to work with wonderful directors, choreographers, designers and Tony award winning actors that come in from NY. How many college students can say that?
4. Out of all the shows that you’ve seen at Lyric, what is your favorite? This is a hard one. In the past 10 years my favorite would be OKLAHOMA! because it was our Centennial and it was such a huge production, plus we had so many past Lyric alums in the show. Then it would have to be RAGTIME. This show was so glorious and heart wrenching. You left the theatre moved.
5. What’s your favorite memory that involves Lyric? Seeing SWEET CHARITY open. Since it was my Civic Center directorial debut it was pretty darn special. I have many more but that is the most recent.