GUTHRIE — Nestled among the other beautiful old red brick buildings in downtown Guthrie, the Pollard Theatre is bigger than it looks from the outside, its wide stage, expansive ceilings and backstage maze of dressing suites, a workshop and green room stretching much farther than they seem at first glance.
“It’s been all kinds of things. It was a furniture store, then it was a vaudevillian house and then they brought the first talkies here,” Artistic Director W. Jerome Stevenson said, pointing out the 1920s murals that adorn the auditorium and the original tin ceiling in the lobby.
“It just seems like it’s going to be this little place and all the sudden you’re like ‘What building am I in?’”
Like its historic home, Stevenson hopes the Pollard’s programming offers more than theatergoers might expect from a small-town company. For its 28th season, simply titled “28,” the Pollard Theatre Company will perform four widely differing musicals, a new period play and a beloved local adaptation of a Christmas classic.
“We have to be as diverse as the audience, and the audience is diverse,” he said. “I love it when people come up and say ‘Hey, I read that you’re doing this; not my cup of tea. But I can’t wait to see this.’ That means that the system is working.”
The theater will open its 2014-15 season with a pair of divergent musicals: The company will perform the quirky 2005 Tony winner “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Friday through Sept. 13. University of Oklahoma faculty member Shawn Churchman will direct.
Then, the Pollard will celebrate the spooky season Oct. 10 through Nov. 1 with the central Oklahoma premiere of “Evil Dead: The Musical,” the stage adaptation of Sam Raimi’s cult classic film.
Two of the Pollard’s company members, Jared Blount and Jennifer Rosson, will make their directorial debut with the campy, creepy production.
“‘Spelling Bee’ is just really fun and clever and intimate and youthful,” Stevenson said, grinning. “Then, ‘Evil Dead,’ nobody expected anybody to do that around here, let alone us. So, we thought, ‘That sounds like fun, we get to throw blood on the audience, and that’ll be cool!’”
“We will have a splatter zone,” marketing director Joshua McGowen promised with a smile.
It just wouldn’t be Christmas in the territorial capital (and later first state capital) without Pollard’s “A Territorial Christmas Carol,” planned this year for Nov. 28 through Dec. 21. Stevenson, who will direct the Oklahoma adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, said the Pollard has performed the play all but one of its 28 years.
“Obviously, it’s a perennial favorite for our audiences, but it’s nice because people tell us they start their holidays with it.”
McGowen said he plans to reprise his roles as the younger version of Ebenezer Scrooge and the lead character’s Christmas-loving nephew Fred.
“Jerome always has us approach it as if it’s the first time that we’re doing it again, so we have a fresh idea and a whole new look,” he said.
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The Pollard Theatre Company’s 2014-15 season
‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’
‘Evil Dead: The Musical’
‘A Territorial Christmas Carol’
‘Shrek: The Musical’