Skylight Music Theatre Announces Cast, Creative Team for OKLAHOMA!

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Rodgers & Hammerstein Landmark Musical Opens Skylight’s 60th Season

Performances September 27 – October 13, 2019 in the beautiful Cabot Theatre

Milwaukee, Wis. (August 6, 2019) — Skylight Music Theatre announced the cast and creative team for Oklahoma! running September 27 through October 13, 2019 in Skylight’s beautiful Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

Oklahoma! is one of the most influential and triumphant musicals in history. In 1943, Oklahoma! broke ground for seamlessly integrating book, music and dance into its story of a young farm woman and her two suitors. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and numerous Tony Awards, Oklahoma! features a gorgeous Rodgers and Hammerstein score with such unforgettable songs as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “Surrey with a Fringe on Top,” and of course, “Oklahoma.”

Director Jill Anna Ponasik Brings Fresh Approach to Landmark Classic

“Over 75 years in age, Oklahoma! still speaks to us with a directness that is remarkable,” said Jill Anna Ponasik, who directs this new production. “Its quintessentially American story and soaring score have enticed audiences for generations. Without changing a word or a note, we’ll look at Oklahoma! with fresh eyes, and listen with new ears to what it has to say to us today. The result may have fewer ruffles, and high-kicking cowboys, but it will bustle with an energy that’s uniquely its own,” she said.

Ponasik recently directed Skylight’s acclaimed production of Carmina Burana (2019), which featured a cast of more than 60 performers, singers and dancers. Joining her on the Oklahoma! creative team will be music director David Bonofiglio, who served as music director for Pippin (2018) and Urinetown, The Musical (2018) at Skylight. James Zager will choreograph the show. He choreographed Skylight’s productions of The Tales of Hoffmann (2018) and La Cenerentola (2014).

Oklahoma! is a landmark musical that was groundbreaking for its time and set the standard for musicals to come. In fact, it was a game-changer in a similar fashion to the way shows like Cabaret, Hair, A Chorus Line, Rent, and Hamilton have been in the years since,” said recently named Skylight Artistic Director Michael Unger. “It looks back to an illustrious music theatre past, while at the same time allowing our gifted director, Jill Anna Ponasik, to invigorate it for our times. It is the perfect way to kick off Skylight’s 60th anniversary season,” said Unger, who begins at Skylight in September. Skylight last produced Oklahoma! in 1992 at Skylight’s old theatre on Jefferson Street.

Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between the Broadway powerhouse duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The story was adapted from Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs. Set just after the turn of the century as Oklahoma prepares to become a brand-new state, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the background for the love story of two headstrong romantics, Curly and Laurey. The musical premiered in 1943 and was choreographed by Agnes de Mille. It is currently enjoying a Broadway revival, which garnered two 2019 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical.

Outstanding Cast Features Returning Skylight Favorites and Debuts

Lucas Pastrana returns to Skylight in the role of Curly. Recent credits at Skylight include the title role in Pippin (2018), Bobby Strong in Urinetown (2018) and Anthony in Sweeney Todd (2017). Co-starring as Laurey is Brittani Moore, who will make her Skylight debut. Moore hails from Chicago where she has worked with Citadel Theatre and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.

Jeremy Peter Johnson will make both his Skylight and Milwaukee debut in the role of Judd. Johnson spent nine seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was recently seen in The Music Man at the Goodman Theatre and in Off-Broadway productions. Cynthia Cobb, who has appeared at Skylight in Violet (2017), Crowns (2016), Porgy & Bess (2013) and many other shows, will play Aunt Eller.

Oklahoma! features a four-person band on stage. The show is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Critics have said, “If ever a show earned its exclamation point, it’s this one!” (The Wall Street Journal); and “There’s nothing corny about this wonderful, fresh show. It’s not just a classic American musical but — and this is the real surprise—a truthful, touching and gripping drama about growing up and falling in love, about dreams and nightmares” (The London Daliy Mail).

Skylight Music Theatre performs in the intimate, 350-seat Cabot Theatre. Modeled after an 18th century French opera house, the Cabot is widely considered to be the most beautiful theatre in Milwaukee. Its tiered, jewel-box architecture offers great views for everyone and audiences feel close to the performances on stage.

OKLAHOMA!

Friday, September 27 – Sunday, October 13, 2019

Music by Richard Rodgers

Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Directed by Jill Anna Ponasik

Recommended for ages 8 and up

 Oklahoma! Creative Team

Director……………………………………………………………………………………………………. Jill Anna Ponasik

Music Director…………………………………………………………………………………………… David Bonofiglio

Choreographer…………………………………………………………………………………………………. James Zager

Scenic & Lighting Designer………………………………………………………………………… Peter Dean Beck**

Costume Designer…………………………………………………………………….. Kärin Simonson Kopischke**

Stage Manager………………………………………………………………………………………… Daniel J. Hanson*

*Appearing through an agreement between Skylight Music Theatre and Actors’ Equity Association,the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
**The Scenic, Costume and Lighting designers are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829.

Cast of Oklahoma!

(In order of appearance)

Curly McLain……………………………………………………………………………………………….. Lucas Pastrana

Aunt Eller…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Cynthia Cobb*

Laurey Williams…………………………………………………………………………………………… Brittani Moore

Will Parker………………………………………………………………………………………… Sean Anthony Jackson

Jud Fry…………………………………………………………………………………………….. Jeremy Peter Johnson*

Ado Annie………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Hannah Esch

Ali Hakim……………………………………………………………………………………………. Ethan D. Brittingham

Gertie Cummings………………………………………………………………………………………… Christal Wagner

Andrew Carnes………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Chad Larget

Cord Elam……………………………………………………………………………………………….. Emanuel Camacho

Kate………………………………………………………………………………………………………… SaraLynn Evenson

Slim, u/s Laurey……………………………………………………………………………………….. Stephanie Staszak

*Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association

Band

Violin………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Pamela Simmons

Bass……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Tom McGirr

Percussion……………………………………………………………………………………….. Michael “Ding” Lorenz

BIOGRAPHIES

Jill Anna Ponasik (Director) is in her 11th season as producing artistic director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT). Select past productions include: Carmina Burana (MOT/Skylight Music Theatre/Chant Claire Chamber Choir/Danceworks Performance Company), Zie Magic Flute (MOT/Quasimondo Physical Theatre), Doc Danger and the Danger Squad (MOT), Svadba (MOT/Wild Space Dance Company), The Tales of Hoffmann (MOT/ Skylight Music Theatre), A Chorus Line (MOT/Theater RED), Handel’s Bestiary (MOT/Danceworks Performance Company/Lyndon Sculpture Garden), The Kreutzer Sonata (Renaissance Theatreworks), Song from the Uproar (MOT/Wild Space Dance Company), 1776 (MOT), Thank You. NEXT! (MOT), The Story of My Life (MOT/Boswell Book Company), Master Class (MOT/Milwaukee Chamber Theatre), The Mikado (MOT), Lucy (MOT) L’Enfant et les Sortileges (MOT/UWM), Judgment of Midas (Present Music), Guns N’ Rosenkavalier (MOT), among others.

David Bonofiglio (Music Director) holds a BFA in piano performance from Cardinal Stritch University.  Selected credits as music director: Little By Little, Scrooge in Rouge, A Cudahy Caroler Christmas, and Jesus Christ Superstar for In Tandem Theatre; Sunday in the Park with George for Windfall Theatre; Pippin, Urinetown and Short and Sweet: A CabaRAY with Ray Jivoff at Skylight’s Cabaret. As cover piano/conductor: Once On This Island and La Cage Aux Folles for Skylight Music Theatre. As keyboardist and programmer: Powder Her Face, Les Misérables, In the Heights, and La Cage Aux Folles for Skylight Music Theatre.

James Zager (Choreographer) is an Associate Artist with Milwaukee Opera Theatre. As choreographer his credits include The Tales of Hoffmann and La Cenerentola at Skylight. MOT: Doc Danger and the Danger Squad, A Chorus Line, The Mikado, Fairy Queen, Fortuna The Time Bender vs. The Schoolgirls of Doom, Iolanthe, Amahl And The Night Visitors. Chamber Theatre: Master Class. Milwaukee Rep: Man of La Mancha, I Love A Piano, Devil’s Music. Florentine Opera: Die Fledermous, Sister Carrie. In Tandem: Ernest In Love, Scrooge In Rouge. Milwaukee Metro Voices: Fortuna, 80’s Movie. Zager has been choreographing, directing, and acting in professional theaters throughout the United States for the past 25 years.

CAST

Lucas Pastrana (Curly McClain) was last seen at Skylight in the title role of Pippin, as Anthony in Sweeney Todd and Bobby Strong in Urinetown. He is a musical theatre graduate of the Peck School of the Arts where he performed in shows including Laurie in Little Women, heart-quartet in Damn Yankees, and Carlos in Women on the Verge. He also was Eddie in Dogfight, with All In Productions, Georg at GCT in Spring Awakening, and Marius in Les Misérables at Duluth Playhouse.

Brittani Moore (Laurey Williams) is making her dream debut as Laurey in Oklahoma! with Skylight Music Theatre. Moore is originally from Robbins, IL, a small suburb of Chicago. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from Northern Illinois University. Past performances include: My Fair Lady with Fireside Theatre, Elephant and Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” with Citadel Theatre and Beehive! The 60s Musical with Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.

Jeremy Peter Johnson (Jud Fry) makes his Milwaukee theater debut with Oklahoma! Off-Broadway, he appeared in Pride and Prejudice adapted by Kate Hamill, Shakespeare’s R&J, and Before the Dawn. He spent nine seasons in the acting company at the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where favorite shows included Macbeth, Richard II, Into the Woods, Tracy’s Tiger, and Guys and Dolls.  Johnson recently relocated to Chicago, where he sang in the barbershop quartet in The Music Man at the Goodman Theatre. Film and TV credits include Las Vegas, All My Children, and As the World Turns.

Cynthia Cobb (Aunt Eller). Credits at Skylight Music Theatre include Porgy and Bess, Violet, Crowns, Gershwin and Friends, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Smokey Joe’s Café, Tintypes, Blues in the Night, and The All Night Strut. Other favorites: Carousel at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up at Drury Lane Theatre, Elmer Gantry at Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire, Cowgirls at Northlight Theatre, and Showboat at Gateway Playhouse.

 PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

Performances of Oklahoma! are Friday, September 27 through Sunday, October 13, 2019 in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

BOX OFFICE

Tickets available at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, by calling (414) 291-7800, or visiting www.skylightmusictheatre.org

SPECIAL EVENTS

Skylight Insights. Free in-depth discussions with special guests one hour before Wednesday and Sunday performances.

ASL Performance. Oklahoma! will be interpreted in American Sign Language on Friday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. Call Skylight’s Box Office at (414) 291-7800 and mention ASL performance for seating in the appropriate section.

SKYLIGHT BAR & BISTRO

Skylight Bar & Bistro is located on the second floor of The Broadway Theatre Center. Open two hours before each Cabot Theatre performance featuring gourmet dining and fine wine by Indulge Wine Room. Reservations are recommended at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/bistro or by calling (414) 291-3773. Counter service is available without reservations.

PARKING VOUCHERS

Purchase $5 discounted parking vouchers from the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee Street (one block east and one block north). Vouchers are valid between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. (evening performances only). Voucher sales are not available during intermission. No refunds.

Skylight Music Theatre’s 2019-2020 Season is sponsored by the United Performing Arts Fund, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and CAMPAC, the Milwaukee County Arts Fund.

About Skylight Music Theatre

Skylight Music Theatre celebrates its 60th anniversary during the 2019-2020 season. Skylight’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight brings fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

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