The Civic Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City's flagship venue for the performing arts, celebrates its 75th anniversary this month. To mark the event, the Civic Center Foundation will present Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Co-chairmen Judy Love and Ann Johnstone are coordinating the 75th anniversary gala, which will begin with a gala buffet dinner for sponsors in the Meinders Hall of Mirrors, followed by performances featuring local arts organizations, a wine reception during intermission and ending with the Frankie Valli performance.
Michael Baron, Lyric Theatre's artistic director, is coordinating the groups who will perform on the first half of this gala event. Oklahoma native Gerald Steichen will serve as guest conductor of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
“We'll talk a little about the history of the building, and we're featuring some local actors as radio DJs who will introduce some of the great acts that have appeared at the hall over the years — people like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, James Brown and Elton John,” Baron said. “The event will also give us a chance to promote the resident organizations' upcoming seasons.”
Originally a partnership between the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall, the Municipal Auditorium, as it was known during its early years, was built as a multipurpose facility that showcased everything from classical music and touring stage productions to sporting events and beauty pageants.
Built in 1937 with funding provided by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program, the hall operated as the Municipal Auditorium until 1966, when it was remodeled and re-christened the Civic Center Music Hall.
In 1998, the Civic Center's interior was gutted and renovated thanks to funds generated by the first Oklahoma City MAPS program. The hall reopened in September 2001 with a series of inaugural concerts by local performing arts organizations.
Today, the Civic Center is the permanent home to the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Lyric Theatre, Canterbury Choral Society, Oklahoma City Ballet, Celebrity Attractions, Oklahoma City Theatre Company and Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre.
The 75th anniversary show will spotlight the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in Shostakovich's “Festive Overture,” Oklahoma City Ballet dancers Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato will perform the White Swan pas de deux from “Swan Lake” and Canterbury Choral Society will sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Also scheduled to appear are members of the Lyric Theatre Academy who will perform numbers from “Annie” and “The King and I,” Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre actors Donald Jordan and Jonathan Beck Reed as the “Greater Tuna” characters, and Greg White, director of music theater at the University of Central Oklahoma, who will perform a number from “The Will Rogers Follies.”