18. A Month of Musicals, Part II – Oklahoma!, Forum, and Fiddler on the Roof
Central Louisiana’s Month of Musicals continues as several new players step onto the stage. Early April will feature three local theatre companies staging three well-known and much-loved musicals.
Holy Savior Menard Theatre Arts will launch their production of Oklahoma! tonight at 7:00 PM at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. Other showings of Oklahoma! begin at 7:00 PM tomorrow night, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM on Saturday, and 2:00 PM on Sunday. Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943, becoming the first of many collaborations by the legendary duo of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. It immediately won popular success and over the years became the most-produced musical in history. Audience members will recognize numerous songs that have established themselves in the public consciousness, including “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “I Cain’t Say No,” “The Farmer and the Cowman,” and, of course, the show’s title song “Oklahoma.” Other highlights include the deeply-psychological dream ballet, originally choreographed by another legend of American theatre Agnes de Mille. Holy Savior Menard’s production of Oklahoma! directed by Cherise Rino should be nothing less than spectacular.
The LSUA Empty Space Players will present A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starting tomorrow night. A 1962 musical with both music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was one of the now legendary composer-lyricist’s first great successes. Having grown-up as a Hammerstein protégé and having already written the lyrics for such shows as West Side Story and Gypsy, Sondheim launched his dual career as composer-lyricist with Forum, before going-on to write other well-known musicals like Company, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. The present show’s title plays on the old vaudeville line “A funny thing happened on the way to the theater.” Placing vaudeville slapstick in a Roman setting, however, the show’s title appropriately relocates to the forum—the public square of Roman cities which often became a site for theatrical productions. Memorable songs like “Comedy Tonight” and “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” combine with the low comedy of slapstick and the high comedy of Ancient Rome-inspired wordplay to make this show a triumph. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will run April 4-6 and April 10-13. Shows begin at 7:30 PM Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2:30 PM on Sundays. All shows will take place at the newly dedicated Richard Gwartney Theatre on the LSUA campus.
Pineville High School will close-out our Month of Musicals with their production of Fiddler on the Roof next weekend. A musical starring Zero Mostel in its original 1964 Broadway run, Fiddler on the Roof follows a Jewish man named Tevye as he tries to not only maintain his religious traditions, but also retain control over his five daughters despite changing times in late Tsarist Russia. The show features such familiar songs as “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Fiddler on the Roof will run from April 10-13 at the Pineville High School Auditorium beginning at 7:00 PM Thursday through Saturday and at 2:00 PM on Sunday.
Looking for a great show either this weekend or next? Perhaps you missed the last installment of musical theatre? Well then, come and see one of these great productions!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College—Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University. There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” Now living in Alexandria, he is one of the founding members of TicketCentral and will also be writing this season’s program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.