O.K.! Arena's Sold-Out Oklahoma! Will Get a New Life in DC This Summer

News   O.K.! Arena's Sold-Out Oklahoma! Will Get a New Life in DC This Summer
Arena Stage's acclaimed, sold-out fall 2010 production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! will return in summer 2011 for an encore that will feature many of the same cast members.

Eleasha Gamble and Nicholas Rodriguez
Eleasha Gamble and Nicholas Rodriguez Photo by Carol Rosegg

The in-the-round staging at Arena's signature Fichandler Stage was directed by artistic director Molly Smith and was the first production in the new Mead Center for American Theater, Arena's massive new three-theatre complex in Washington, DC's Southwest neighborhood.

Oklahoma!, the 1943 musical about farmers and cowmen and their women folk — populating Indian territory about to become "a brand new state" — featured a multicultural cast led by Nicholas Rodriguez and Curly and Eleasha Gamble as Laurey, with E. Faye Butler as Aunt Eller. The run was extended by one week, to Dec. 30, 2010.

The musical will return to the Fichandler July 8-Oct. 9. Tickets will be available to supporters of Arena Stage starting Feb. 22, to subscribers starting Feb. 28, and to the general public starting March 4 with a 24-hour one-day sale (a limited number of $50 tickets are available in this period).

Arena managing director Edgar Dobie said in a statement, "When we first opened Oklahoma! last fall, audiences couldn't get enough of it, and it was difficult to have to turn people away at the box office. Even though it was playing to an average of 99 percent capacity each performance, we couldn't extend to meet demand this winter due to the next incoming show in the Fichandler. We're so pleased to bring it back again this summer."

Smith said in a statement, "The optimism and drive of the characters exploring a new frontier matched the ambition Arena Stage staff felt as we opened our new theatre complex. It was thrilling that audiences shared that enthusiasm and supported our inaugural production in our new home." New York producers and national media descended on the production, giving wing to talk of a wider commercial life, perhaps on Broadway. For now, the not-for-profit Arena revives the production at its home.

Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II's score (chock full of such classic stage songs as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," People Will Say We're in Love," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "Out of My Dreams," among others) was under the musical direction of George Fulginiti-Shakar. Parker Esse choreographed. The design team included Tony Award-winning designers Eugene Lee (sets) and Martin Pakledinaz (costumes).

According to Arena, Oklahoma! had the highest single-ticket sales for a production by opening night. By opening night, Arena Stage had 54 percent more in advanced single-ticket revenue than the previous record holder, the 2010 production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. The run had the highest single-ticket sales for a single production in a 24-hour period, surpassing Molly Smith's 2002 production of South Pacific by a 50 percent increase in revenue.

Full casting and creative team will be announced at a later date. For more information about Arena Stage, visit www.arenastage.org.



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