All-African-American Oklahoma! Debuts at Portland Center Stage Sept. 20

News   All-African-American Oklahoma! Debuts at Portland Center Stage Sept. 20
A new beautiful morning dawns in Portland Stage's all-African-American production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, starring Rodney Hicks and Brianna Horne, which begins previews Sept. 20.

Rodney Hicks and Brianna Horne
Rodney Hicks and Brianna Horne Photo by Patrick Weishampel

Portland Center Stage artistic director Chris Coleman stages the production, which resets the musical in an "all-black town." Oklahoma! will officially open Sept. 23 and continue through Oct. 30.

"Having an African American cast tell this story, for me, feels fresh, legitimate and perhaps newly resonant. For a musical that always risks feeling syrupy sweet, or cornnnnnnnny – grounding it in a real place and time, with real people who are building a life for themselves out of the land, and succeeding at a modest level – feels like it has the prospect of letting the whole thing breathe," Coleman said in a statement.

Hicks (Jacques Brel, Rent, The Scottsboro Boys) stars as Curly, with Horne (Best of Both Worlds) as Laurey and Marisha Wallace (One Night with Janis Joplin) as Ado Annie.

Completing the cast are Joy Lynn Matthews-Jacobs, Troy Valjean Rucker, Don Kenneth Mason, Timothy Ware, Jarran Muse, Justin Lee Miller, Jonathan Raviv, Kelcy Griffin, Sheila Jones, Berwick Haynes, Tyrone Roberson, Gregory J. Hanks, Kemba Anika Shannon, Sumayya Ali, Bianca Burgess and Marlene Villafane.

This is not the first time audiences have had the opportunity to see the classic musical in a new light. In fall 2010, Arena Stage premiered a multicultural in-the-round production of Oklahoma! to acclaim in Washington, D.C. The extended production later returned for a summer 2011 engagement. The encore run continues through Oct. 2. Portland Center Stage's Oklahoma! has scenic design by William Bloodgood, lighting design by Ann Wrightson, costume design by Jeff Cone and sound design by Casi Pacilio. Rick Lewis serves as musical director with Joel Ferrell as choreographer.

Oklahoma!, the first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was originally titled Away We Go. Out-of-town tryouts saw the addition of the song "Oklahoma!," which was so rousing, it became the title of the musical as well.

For tickets visit Portland Center Stage performs at the Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Avenue in Portland, OR.

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