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Lyric Theatre prepares to launch 50th anniversary season

An Oklahoma premiere, a classic musical and two shows with Oklahoma ties are part of Lyric Theatre's 50th anniversary season, scheduled June 25-Aug. 10.
BY RICK ROGERS rrogers@opubco.com Published: June 9, 2013
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“After the Broadway production, a national tour was announced but it never happened,” said Lyric's artistic director Michael Baron. “The Disney people are coming to see what we do with it in hopes that they can tour it at some point.”

After an absence of 30 years, Rodgers and Hammerstein's “The King and I” returns to the Lyric stage July 9-13. Based on the true story of British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and her time instructing children in the king's palace in Thailand, “The King and I” is one of the musical theater's most opulent classics.

“Our production of ‘The King and I' is a nod to the classic musicals Lyric has produced in the past,” Baron said. “It's the type of show Lyric can do extremely well. We've cast 21 Asian-American children and the director is also Asian-American. It's a big production with a cast of 50.”

Scheduled July 23-27 is “The Will Rogers Follies,” a musical that chronicles the life of Oklahoma's favorite son. This Tony Award-winning musical is making its first appearance on the Lyric stage since 2002. It was the company's first production after the move to the Civic Center Music Hall.

“We thought it would be nice to honor a local hero during our anniversary season,” Baron said. “We've also planned to feature a different guest star in the role of Wiley Post at each performance.”

“Big River,” a tale based on Mark Twain's “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” also has an Oklahoma connection: Composer/lyricist Roger Miller grew up in Erick. The lively musical was a surprise hit when it opened on Broadway in 1985. “Big River” closes the season Aug. 6-10.

“We have four big shows this summer but each is big in a different way,” Baron said. “And with this kind of variety, it's safe to say that Lyric has something for everyone. To show the breadth of professional theater is exciting and the diversity of our programming has kept us fresh and alive for 50 years.”