All six shows of this OKC Broadway season have one thing in common: A version has graced the big screen. Some were musicals first and made into movies, like My Fair Lady, Oklahoma! and Dear Evan Hansen, while others, like Pretty Woman and Mean Girls, were adapted into musicals. I think we can all agree that after a year and a half of watching everything at home, we’re ready to sit in a theater and see some live performances.
Elizabeth Gray, general manager of OKC Broadway and executive director of the Civic Center Foundation, told us what it was like coordinating this season after such a long hiatus: “Planning for this 2021-22 season was unlike anything anyone in the performing arts has ever encountered, especially when it comes to Broadway. The shows we present are part of large national tours, and the task to schedule and reschedule routes in cities across the country with different venue availabilities in an ever-changing pandemic environment was, as you can imagine, immeasurably complicated. Broadway shows were so sorely missed from the Civic Center Music Hall stage. Seeing that our patrons are just as excited to walk through those doors again and take their seats as we are to have them back has been the most exciting part. Our sponsor, Paycom, has stuck with us through it all, and the support and understanding of our patrons has meant the world to us. We are truly grateful to be presenting the ‘Best of Broadway’ once again.”
There’s something for everyone this year, and it is a great season to get your kids interested in the magic of musical theater. Kids (10+) and adults alike who are fans of the movie Mean Girls will love the hilarious stage adaptation (Dec. 28-Jan. 2), written by Tina Fey. Pre-teens (12+) and teens should absolutely see Dear Evan Hansen (Jan. 11-16), which tackles tough contemporary issues high school students are facing, including bullying, mental health, and teen suicide. While the subject matter is heavy, Dear Evan Hansen leaves the audience with a better understanding of what so many American youth are struggling with, and while not a traditional “happy ending,” the characters are left with peace of mind and joy for their futures. Little ones (6+) and others not-so-little will be in awe as OKC favorite The Lion King returns to the stage May 11-29, with its spectacle and jaw-dropping costumes. There’s a reason this Disney musical has been touring non-stop for more than 20 years, and it’s always an amazing experience.
If you love the Rodgers and Hammerstein show about our home state, Oklahoma!, it’s import- ant that you’re aware this (Jan. 25-30) won’t be quite the same version you’ve seen before. OCU alum and star of the 2019 Broadway revival, Will Mann, had this to say about what audiences should expect from the current Oklahoma! tour: “It strips away all the devices of broad happy-go- lucky cowboys and hapless damsels and finds what’s at the core of these people and their relationships. Instead of a huge orchestra, the songs have been arranged to sound more like a country or folk band with steel guitar and banjo.” The Oklahoma! revival won two 2019 Tony Awards, and this brand-new touring production should not be missed.
Closing out the season is Pretty Woman: The Musical (Aug. 16-21) on its first North American tour. Relive the love story of Vivian Wood and Edward Lewis through the original score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, also featuring the song “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and Bill Dee.