NORMAN — Four schools within the University of Oklahoma’s College of Fine Arts are partnering under the direction of Lyn Cramer to restage this once “must-see” musical by servicemen and women before leaving for WWII.
Rarely performed today, Cramer’s program notes explain “On the Town” is a massive undertaking for any theatre company and even with heavy streamlining for today’s audience OU’s production still requires 45 actors along with a crew and pit orchestra just as large to support.
“On The Town” will conclude OU’s annual President’s Arts Week. Dean Rich Taylor welcomed members of the University Women’s Club during Thursday evening’s final dress rehearsal. Sitting in the plush velvet lined chairs among a mature audience within OU’s historic Holmberg Hall set just the right mood for this 1944 musical.
Cramer’s direction stays true to the Leonard Bernstein (music), Betty Comden and Adolph Green (books and lyrics) and Jerome Robbins’ (dance) original Broadway show by relying heavily on dance to tell the unfolding story. Cramer teamed with OU dance professors Steve Brule and Clara Cravey Stanley to develop humorous and flowing ballets and dance sequences. Add Lloyd Cracknell’s vibrant costumes and Paul Christman’s jazzy pit orchestra and the show’s diverse color and rhythmic pallets come alive.
The show’s third number, “Presentation of Miss Turnstiles” gives you the first taste of dance’s storytelling role. Ivy, played by Audra Bryant, has just been announced this month’s winner of New York’s Miss Turnstiles. All the singing comes via the announcer right at the beginning and the rest of the number is danced. Various men representing business to servicemen dance onto the stage begging for her attention until they finally retreat when the next month’s Miss Turnstiles is announced leaving her back on the subway to bounce with the rest of New York.