SummerStock at the Ritz to present “Oklahoma!”…Classic musical set to take the stage following popular demand

By  | June 13, 2018 | Filed under: News

SHEFFIELD-SummerStock at the Ritz will be presenting Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking musical “Oklahoma!” 7:35 p.m., July 19-21, 26 and 27 at the Ritz Theatre, 111 W. Third St., Sheffield.

“Oklahoma” is directed by SummerStock artistic director David Hope with music direction by Gene Anne Gifford and choreography by Matthew Kiel. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and can be purchased at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia; or by calling 256-383-0533. Tickets will be for sale at the door as available.

SummerStock at the Ritz is an educational theatre arts training program that provides accomplished professional instruction to young people ages 16 through 29 who aspire to a higher level of performance in acting, singing, dance and technical theatre.

Ever since SummerStock at the Ritz was organized in 2009, Hope said there’s one show that everyone has requested: “Oklahoma!” This year everything aligned in spectacular fashion, befitting the legendary musical. “Oklahoma” celebrates its 75th anniversary and SummerStock at the Ritz celebrates its 10th.

“You always want to do something special for your 10th anniversary and it’s exciting that we’re producing such a classic,” Hope said. “It’s a fabulous show. It’s a show I’ve always wanted to direct and never had the opportunity to because the timing never seemed right for one reason or another. This year, ‘Oklahoma!’ fits the bill.”

Hope added that “Oklahoma!” holds a significant place in musical theatre history. It was the first musical collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and earned them a Pulitzer Prize.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1943 and ran for a staggering 2,212 performances. It was followed by revivals all over the world and an Oscar-winning film adaptation. “Oklahoma!” expanded on the technique of intertwining the song and dance aspects of the musical with the plot, which was initially pioneered by “Show Boat.” This technique set the standard for all future Broadway musicals.

“If you were to poll a thousand people and ask them in the entire musical theatre library, what is the one show that best represents America, they’d probably say ‘Oklahoma!’” Hope said. “‘Oklahoma!’ is the show that is credited for really changing musical theatre.”

Media Release/Bobby Bozeman/Marketing and program development/Tennessee Valley Art Association

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