I caught Clark Theatre's production of Catch Me If You Can tonight. The young cast was shepherded and supported by some of the best young adult talent in Tulsa: Robert Young (director), John Cruncleton (sets), Kathy Grufik (choreographer), David Lawrence (lights), Tiffany Wright (vocal director) and with Erin Scarberry as the theatre's artistic director. Not surprisingly, it was youth theatre at its very best. Pretty cool that four of those adults got their start as kids at Clark.
Grufik's choreography was especially effective, and filled the stage with movement and color, helped in no small manner by the constantly shifting array of costumes, designed by Genie Reiman. Not being familiar with the music before tonight, I was impressed at how well the kids handled the sometimes extraordinary demands of the score. It was nice to hear young voices being able to fill the room even without benefit of individual mics.
I have to mention a couple of standout numbers and performances: Quinn Blakely rocked "Don't Break the Rules", but you've got to give equal credit to the dancers for selling this big number: Reid Patten, Miriam Hanisch, Erika Ralls, and Lexi Walker. As has become a trademark for Clark, the chorus work, both vocal and dance, was sharp and energetic. Peyton Grufik was surprisingly moving as the not-so-great role model dad, Frank Sr. And Emma Petherick as love interest Brenda Strong wailed and nailed the heart-breaking, tears-in-her-eyes "Fly, Fly Away" that stopped the show.
Catch Me If You Can marks Clark's movement into doing some more mature material with their senior high actors. Looks like that's going to work out fine.
Clark Youth Theatre has a nice video trailer of their current production, Catch Me If You Can. Kudos to them on the video, and everyone get out to see them. (Full disclosure, I'm a big supporter, as if you didn't know).
Theatre Tulsa has made it a large part of their mission to bring the big name Broadway musicals to our stage. Legally Blonde, Les Mis and Chicago in the last couple of years, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Chorus Line coming up. Currently, Miss Saigon just finished playing at the Williams in the PAC. Big names indeed. In fact, Miss Saigon has been named by some authorities as the greatest musical of all time.
Well, it’s not that. The greatest musical of all time should probably have some memorable melodies, and I’m going out on a limb here to predict that, as dramatic and as glorious as the music can be at times, you’re not going to leave the theatre humming any of these songs. The lyrics, for better or worse (and more on that later) often veer towards the simplistic.
Yet this is the 12th longest running show in Broadway history, and has something like 3 billion performances in London’s West End. Somebody likes this show, and probably more than 2 or 3 somebodies. What’s all the hubbub?
Miss Saigon is an attempt to capture the tragedy, the brutality, and the hypocrisy of the Vietnam War, and to retell that sad story on a personal scale—a story not about countries and politics, but about people. And instead of telling it from an American point of view, like pretty much every other movie and play on the war, it tells it from the point of view of ordinary Vietnamese men and women, ordinary men and women caught up in a catastrophe they have no control over. This is the secret strength of Miss Saigon. This is the still center at the heart of the spectacle.
The war and its aftermath overwhelm the characters and their desires; they don’t control events, they are consumed by them. Miss Saigon is best played out on a large stage, where the spectacle has the needed space to create the whirlpool that pulls the characters down despite their frantic efforts to swim against it. Conversely, the simple lyrics work best when sung as expressions of honest (and life-sized) emotions—the words of ordinary people struggling with confusion, pain, love and loss in a world that has, literally, gone mad.
Theatre Tulsa is to be commended for 1) having a business plan that targets multiple sections of the Tulsa community, and 2) having the balls (or the ovaries) to select a show that stretches their capabilities to the limit, and then expanding their capabilities in an effort to do that show justice (bringing in outside people, upping their scenic production, etc.). May their future endeavors in this regard be even more richly rewarded.
No one can say that TheatreTulsa isn't ambitious. Will we see a helicopter onstage?
Arts Alliance Tulsa
Green Room OK
Tulsa Little Theatre
Tulsa Weekly Roundup
Am. Theatre Co.
BA Community Playhouse
Clark Youth Theatre
G Rated Theatre
Midwestern Theater Co.
Muskogee Little Theatre
Owasso Comm. Theatre
Sand Springs Comm. Th.
Sapulpa Comm. Theatre
Tulsa Latino Theatre
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Tulsa Rep. Musicals
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