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From ‘Sound of Music’ to ‘The Prom,’ get a sneak peek of OKC’s Lyric Theatre’s 60th season



Oklahoma’s official theater is raising the curtain on a celebratory 2023 season worthy of a milestone birthday.  

Lyric Theatre embarks on its 60th anniversary season Feb. 16 with a family-friendly version of “Big River,” the esteemed musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” featuring music by Oklahoma’s own Roger Miller. It will be the first of seven shows the venerable company will perform on two stages: its own 278-seat Plaza Theatre and the 2,477-seat Civic Center main stage. 

“This is one of Oklahoma’s favorite shows: ‘Will Rogers Follies,’ ‘Oklahoma!’ and ‘Big River’ are the three big made-in-Oklahoma musicals,” said Lyric Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron.

“We’re going to do, I think, what Lyric has always done, but now is going to do even more in that we will always revisit classic musicals … along with introducing new works.”  

Founded in 1963, Lyric is Oklahoma’s largest live theater company, annually serving more than 100,000 people statewide. The state Legislature designated it Oklahoma’s official theater in 2022. 

“Hopefully, people know that no matter what Lyric does it’s going to be well produced, thoughtfully created, and will tell a story that we feel is a conversation that people might want to have,” Baron said. “Now more than ever, I think Lyric has a really important position in creating empathy and bringing the community together. Our community is very diverse in Oklahoma, and everyone doesn’t agree. But it doesn’t mean we don’t live with each other and shouldn’t be able to talk about these things, whatever the issue is, with civility and kindness.” 

In 2023, the nonprofit professional theater will perform seven shows, ranging from fresh takes on beloved favorites (“The Sound of Music,” “Ain’t Misbehavin'”) and uproarious new comedies (“The Play That Goes Wrong,” “The Prom”) to a world premiere historical drama (“Concerto”) and a million-dollar holiday classic (“A Christmas Carol”).  

“Lyric is such a staple of the community. Without it, I don’t think as many Oklahomans would be experiencing as much theater as they’re able to,” said Ashley Mandanas, who will play Annie in “The Play That Goes Wrong.”  

Mariah Warren plays The King in Lyric Theatre's production of "Big River: Theatre For Young Audiences Version." Performances are Feb. 16-March 11 at the Plaza Theatre.

Here is a sneak peek at Lyric’s 60th anniversary season:  

‘Big River: Theatre For Young Audiences Version’ 

When and where: Feb. 16-March 11, Plaza Theatre. 

An add-on to the five-show mainstage season, the family-friendly hourlong version of the 1985 Tony Award-winning musical is the fifth installment in Lyric’s Theatre for Young Audiences series, which was shelved for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Like Twain’s popular and frequently banned 1885 novel, the musical takes audiences on an adventure down the mighty Mississippi River while celebrating the unlikely friendship between Huck and Jim. But the production will update the two main roles and make “adjustments for period-specific language.”  

“The book is definitely about addressing racism … and the musical did that as well. But I think it was written with a white audience in mind, and there are ways now to talk about that time period that gives more equalized storytelling to what was happening,” Baron said.  

“This young adult version addresses some of the issues that the book faces as well as the musical … and I do think the piece is still valid and as joyful and complex as it ever was.” 

‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ 

When and where: April 5-23, Plaza Theatre. 

Lyric will stage the Oklahoma City professional premiere of this recent Broadway smash as the first show of its 2023 subscription season. The Tony-winning comedy chronicles the Cornley University Drama Society’s ill-fated and accident-prone attempts to put on a 1920s murder mystery, as their efforts are hampered by a dead body who can’t play dead, an unconscious leading lady and actors who trip over their lines and everything else.  

“The show is so damn funny, and so much has to happen and play out in so many ways that the show backstage is going to be just as hysterical probably as the show on stage,” Baron said. 

Julie Andrews appears in an iconic scene from the 1965 movie adaptation of "The Sound of Music."

‘The Sound of Music’ 

When and where: June 27-July 2, Civic Center. 

Lyric will open its three-show Civic Center summer run with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic family favorite, which spun off the equally enduring 1965 film.  

For its first production of “The Sound of Music” in 16 years, the OKC company is assembling a 75-member cast and live orchestra to perform the Tony-, Grammy- and Oscar-winning score, which includes “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” “Edelweiss,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and the title number. 

The show will be directed by new Oklahoma City University Associate Dean of Theatre W. Jerome Stevenson and choreographed by Hui Cha Poos, with music direction by David Andrews Rogers.  

“If we’re to continue to do classic musicals from the canon, they have to be, I think, approached by new people and looked at from different points of view,” Baron said. “Jerome will definitely make ‘The Sound of Music’ sing like it hasn’t before.” 

Directed by Ryan Murphy ("Glee"), the 2020 Netflix film "The Prom" is adapted from the Tony Award-nominated musical of the same.

‘The Prom’  

When and where: July 11-16, Civic Center. 

Baron will direct the Oklahoma premiere of this high school musical, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards for its 2018-2019 Broadway run and spun off a 2020 Netflix film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington and Jo Ellen Pellman.  

“‘The Prom’ is going to be a really big moment, as it’s a musical about celebrating the LGBTQ+ community,” Baron said.  

The riotous show follows four past-their-prime Broadway stars who travel to Indiana to insert themselves into a small-town controversy making national headlines: a lesbian student’s fight for the right to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom. 

“Showing a queer relationship on stage — on the big stage … on the main stage in the Civic Center — that’s huge, especially for a theater as big as Lyric,” said Mandanas, a nonbinary actor, singer and dancer based in Edmond.  

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’  

When and where: July 25-30, Civic Center. 

Lyric will return to 1920s Harlem with the 1978 winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, which pays homage to the music of jazz innovator Fats Waller. Monique Midgette will direct Lyric’s Summer at the Civic Center finale, which features lively hits like “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Your Feet’s Too Big” and “T’aint Nobody’s Business if I Do.” 

“It’s going to be really an event. … We haven’t done the show in a long time. It’s a great songbook, and what Monique has done with the show is new in my mind in that it is not just a toe-tapping revue of jazz songs. She really puts you in a nightclub in that period, and you’re experiencing ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” in a new 360-way,” Baron said.

“The set is a nightclub, there’s going to be tables where audience members are going to be sitting, and we’re going to reach out to specific groups in town who will come dressed to the nines for the club to see the show.” 

World premiere of ‘Concerto’  

When and where: Sept. 13-Oct. 1, Plaza Theatre. 

As part of its ongoing New Works Initiative, Lyric will return to the Plaza District with the world premiere of Alan Olejniczak’s fact-based musical drama, which centers on famed Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck, the patroness who supported him. 

Directed by Baron and produced in collaboration with OKC Philharmonic Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate, the play will take audiences behind the scenes as Tchaikovsky works on his “Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35.” The only violin concerto he composed, the polarizing 1878 piece is now regarded as a masterwork and has become one of the most beloved violin concertos in music history.  

“You’re getting real human stories behind who Tchaikovsky was. If you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the guy that wrote “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake,”‘ well, of course, that’s not who he was. Those are the works he did — and knowing who he was, how he created these pieces, who was funding those pieces, is beyond fascinating,” Baron said.  

W. Jerome Stevenson stars in Lyric Theatre's 2020 outdoor production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Harn Homestead.

‘A Christmas Carol’ 

When and where: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, Plaza Theatre.  

After staging the yuletide classic outdoors at the Harn Homestead for the past three years due to the pandemic, Lyric is taking its 13th annual production of Charles Dickens’ often-adapted “Ghost Story of Christmas” back indoors. In November, Devon Energy announced a $1 million gift to help the nonprofit arts organization return the show — another add-on to the subscription season — to the Plaza Theatre. 

“It’s exciting because technology has made leaps and bounds since we first did the show 12 years ago, so we’re able to do things (that are) more spectacular, but also easier than we had before,” Baron said.  

“We’re implementing a lot of what we learned with the outdoor version as far as where things can happen in the show and surprise the audience, but also the use of, I would call it, low-tech, or storytelling theater, mixed with high-tech.” 

For tickets and information, go to  

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