MLT's opener is hit at Coleman Theatre
October 04, 2007

Theatergoers mill around the marquee of the Coleman Theatre in downtown Miami, OK. A 'will call' booth was set up outside to distribute reserved tickets.

Members of the Miami Little Theatre inaugurated their 48th season recently by presenting Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, Oklahoma! at the Coleman Theatre, a Route 66 stop-off in downtown Miami, OK. Their performance was part of Oklahoma's Centennial celebration, one of over 1,000 statewide events during 2007 commemorating the state's unique history. Oil wells were gushing when Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the Union on November 16, 1907.

"If ever a musical deserved an exclamation in its title, it's this first Rodgers and Hammerstein musical," suggested members of the Miami Little Theatre. Oklahoma! was considered the natural choice for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state, as its songs have become part of the American culture.

This fellow, at left, standing in front of the Coleman's concession stand, has brought flowers with him to follow a long-standing tradition of rewarding an actor for his performance. The line at the ticket booth, at right, was steady but moved along as last minute theatergoers purchased tickets. Admission was quite reasonable at $10 per adult and $8 for each senior and student.

An exclamation point also should appear when mentioning the performances of the over two dozen MLT actors who sang and danced their way across the Coleman stage. Not only did the audience appreciate the humor in the rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys but they also couldn't help but tap their feet to the tunes of "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Pore Jud is Daid," and "All er Nothin'."

The rivalry between the suitors of the winsome farm girl named Laurey, played by Crystal Ott, a sophomore at NEO A&M, came to a head with some force. Chad Jargis should be commended for his staging of the scene that required firing a weapon. Curley played by Dallas Lish of Grove and Jud Fry portrayed by Keith A. Green of Claremore caused the laugh meter to spike during the scene in which Curley suggests how Jud should find a way out of the love triangle.

Although the local budget couldn't duplicate the set of a Broadway production, it did cover the creation of a rotating prop that efficiently changed the scene from Laurey's farmhouse to the Skidmore Ranch. Of course, one must also give credit to the costume designers who put together so many authentic-looking early nineteenth century outfits.

One thing that was a bit disconcerting had to do with the lighting. From the balcony the shadows of the actors moving across the stage were distracting. Perhaps, someone will contribute funds for the purchase of overhead lighting, or a way to eliminate the problem.

The balcony seats at the Coleman Theatre were mostly empty with some exceptions, including those cast members who controlled the sound, lights and cameras. Others stopped by during intermission to see how restoration of the balcony--the newly installed seats--had progressed. While the balcony wasn't officially open and wouldn't be unless 500 tickets were sold for the seats downstairs, those that might have switched seats could feel closer to the glitz and glamour of the theatre--highlighted by the massive crystal swagged chandelier--and yet have a commanding view of the stage. For an earlier article about the chandelier, go here.

Oklahoma! opened in New York on March 31, 1943 and closed more than five years later after completing about 2200 performances. It was founded on Lynn Riggs' Theatre Guild play, Green Grow the Lilacs.

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