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Lyric Theatre is performing its entire 2021 season outside due to COVID-19 - find out what shows OKC's largest professional theater is staging

W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]
W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]

A version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman.

Taking it outside
Lyric Theatre is exploring the great outdoors with its 2021 shows
 

Lyric Theatre is taking its entire 2021 season outside due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

The Oklahoma City professional theater has announced an all-outdoor five-show season that will include popular titles such as "Nunsense," "Grease" and "A Christmas Carol," the Tony-winning play "Master Class" and a new one-woman show. The 2021 lineup also will have the nonprofit company romping from the Myriad Botanical Gardens to Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School to the Harn Homestead.

"It's one thing to get creative for 'A Christmas Carol' and find the right venue that fits, that matches the themes of the show and would work well together. But it's a more challenging puzzle to pick a whole season of five shows where the venue works, the time of year works, and it's still safe," Michael Baron, Lyric's producing artistic director, told The Oklahoman.

"So, it took a little longer, but what we came up with was, one, a season that we can produce, both safely and financially. And then, two, we're able to do five shows, which is what we postponed last year."

Stephen Hilton performs in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]
Stephen Hilton performs in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]

What's changing?

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Lyric Theatre only performed one title on its 2020 subscription season - the two-woman show "Having Our Say" - before opting last spring to postpone all remaining shows on its 2020 subscription season to 2021.

It was the first time in 56 years that the venerable arts organization did not bring a summer season of musical theater to an Oklahoma City stage.

Baron and his cohorts originally planned to carry over all remaining titles on the 2020 season to this year, but due to the ongoing pandemic, the world premiere Native American musical "Distant Thunder," the family-friendly "Matilda," the Tony winner "Kinky Boots" and the Shakespeare-meets-The-Go-Gos romp "Head Over Heels" have been further delayed.

"Only 'Grease' and 'Christmas Carol' are titles from the previous year. The rest of the titles are new, based on safety and venue," Baron said, adding that the beloved holiday show this year will be part of the subscription season rather than an add-on show.

"In 2022, our full intention is to open back up at the Plaza Theatre, our indoor venue, with 'Distant Thunder,' which is the show we left (off with) when the pandemic started. ... The rest of the shows were perfect for 2020; we don't know if they'll work for 2022 based on finances, venue, all the same things that we're dealing with now. So, we'll know what shows for 2020 we might be able to do in the future later this fall. But we're really concentrating on what we can accomplish this year," Baron said. 

Saxon Neal plays Young Scrooge and Kristin Küns plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]
Saxon Neal plays Young Scrooge and Kristin Küns plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]

What's the timeline?

Last September, Lyric was among the first professional theaters in the country to resume live performances by staging the family-friendly "Lyric Kids’ Clubhouse Cabaret" and program-rotating "Lyric’s Moonlight Cabaret" outside on the Myriad Botanical Gardens' Water Stage with limited capacity, required face masks for patrons and mandatory temperature checks.

For an encore, Lyric transformed its 10th anniversary production of "A Christmas Carol" into a 75-minute outdoor show that had audiences moving with the performers to various sites at the Harn Homestead living history museum, which includes the 1904 Victorian Harn Home, an event barn and a one-room schoolhouse.

Not only was the yuletide production popular with local theater fans, but the show also received media coverage from the New York Times and BBC. Baron said he was contacted by theater producers from around the country, too.

"We learned so much by doing. And I think it was great seeing the audiences feel comfortable and have a moment a joy just knowing they were outside seeing theater and then investing in a play again. ... It was like, 'Oh, we figured out not only we can do theater safely in this crazy new way and figure out all of the ins and outs of it, but we also were able to tell the story, which is our main mission," Baron said. "So, it's worth it to do this extra work to actually have live performances, but it is a lot of extra work. ... That's why it's taken a little longer than normal."

Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]
Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]

When and where does the new season start?

Lyric will embark on its 2021 season "under the stars" March 24-April 3 on the Myriad Gardens Water Stage with the new one-woman show "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds." The multifaceted Dallas-based performer - who performed with Lyric in the theater's 2018 production of "Crowns" and 2019 staging of "Newsies" - will use the four C's of diamond selection - color, cut, carat and clarity -  as touchstones for her show, which will be directed by Monique Midgette, helmer of Lyric's 2020 production of "Having Our Say."

Lee and her band will present songs by Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood, Kirk Franklin, Bonnie Raitt and Martina McBride and spoken word selections from poets Maya Angelou and Amanda Gorman in the show.

"We loved working in Myriad Gardens in the fall ... and live music is works really well in that venue. So, we wanted to make sure that each of the shows we picked for that venue have live music ... and that there was a variety of styles and subject matter," Baron said. "We still wanted to have a new work in the season or at least create one. Denise Lee is a performer I love and I consider one of the region's finest musical theater performers."

The season will continue April 21-May 9 on the Water Stage with the uproarious spoof "Nunsense," helmed by Lyric’s Associate Artistic Director Ashley Wells. Although Dan Goggin's musical comedy about the misadventures of five nuns trying to put on a fundraiser has been popular since its 1985 debut - it is the second-longest-running off-Broadway show in history - Baron said this will be the first time for Lyric to stage it.

"There's nothing more fun than watching nuns sing, give us hope and bring us to a simpler, more lovely time. It's a great show also for the actresses in town locally to highlight their talents," he said. "I was just imagining passers-by at Myriad Gardens going, 'Wow, what are all those nuns doing on stage singing?' And it brings a smile to my face. And I think the show will bring a smile to everyone's face."

A rainbow shines over Pribil Stadium before the high school football game between Bishop McGuinness and Douglass at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. [The Oklahoman Archives]
A rainbow shines over Pribil Stadium before the high school football game between Bishop McGuinness and Douglass at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. [The Oklahoman Archives]

When and where are the other shows?

Lyric will move to Bishop McGuinness’ Pribil Stadium June 15-27 for a new production of the smash "Grease," featuring indelible hits from the stage version and the movie, including “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You." Baron, who will direct the show, said he couldn't ask for a more ideal setting under than circumstances.

"I wanted to make sure that when we went outside ... if we do a big event like 'Grease,' it should be at a venue that makes you even more nostalgic for the piece. I think being in an actual high school football stadium that has history doing 'Grease' just makes it all the more fun," he said. "We'll all be sitting on the home side, and it'll be like the spectacular halftime show version of 'Grease.'"

Baron also will direct the Tony-winning play "Master Class" Sept. 15-Oct. 3 back on the Myriad Gardens Water Stage. The play, which opened on Broadway in 1995 and won Tonys for Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald, unfolds as a fictional master class by real-life opera singer Maria Callas near the end of her life in the 1970s. The play's author, Terrence McNally, died last year of complications from COVID-19.

"It will work great outside ... because you get to hear live opera music," Baron said. "The show really talks about how to create art under duress and challenge and that the real thing that you need for performance is to bring yourself to it."
Lyric will wrap up its all-outdoor season by returning to the Harn Homestead Nov. 17-Dec. 23 to reprise its immersive "A Christmas Carol," co-directed by Baron and Wells.

"I just feel really blessed that we were able to figure it out this five-show live season. Many theaters around the country are still working virtually," Baron said. "A lot of it has to do with either the regulations in their area or just the weather because we're lucky that we live in a fairly temperate climate - except for during these snowstorms - and so we're able to do theater for a longer period outside. So, it's going to be really fun, and, most importantly, it'll still be safe."

W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]
W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]

How can people get tickets?

Subscribers’ tickets from last year will be honored for the new productions, and the single-ticket on-sale date soon will be announced. For more information, go to www.LyricTheatreOKC.org or call 405-524-9312.

"Our patrons are excited to return to the theater, and we're appreciative of their patience over the last few months as we've worked to ensure we're providing a safe and enjoyable experience," said Michael Bratcher-Magallanez, Lyric's marketing and public relations director, in an email. "Hearing comments from patrons such as, 'We miss seeing your amazing performances,' and 'You guys are amazing, and we're so lucky to have you here in the city' makes the work we're doing behind the scenes all worth it."

Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]
Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]

ON STAGE

Lyric Theatre's 2021 season

"Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," March 24-April 3, Myriad Gardens Water Stage.

"Nunsense" April 21-May 9, Myriad Gardens Water Stage.

"Grease," June 15-27, Bishop McGuinness High School’s Pribil Football Stadium.

"Master Class," Sept. 15-Oct. 3, Myriad Gardens Water Stage.

"A Christmas Carol," Nov. 17-Dec. 23, Harn Homestead.

Tickets and information: www.LyricTheatreOKC.org or call 405-524-9312.

Features Writer Brandy "BAM" McDonnell covers Oklahoma's arts, entertainment and cultural sectors for The Oklahoman and Oklahoman.com. Reach her at bmcdonnell@oklahoman.com, www.facebook.com/brandybammcdonnell and twitter.com/BAMOK. Please support work by her and her colleagues by subscribing at oklahoman.com/subscribe 

-BAM 

Related Photos
W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]

W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K....

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b60ba68ad5a86bda3f684799dfe5748f.jpg" alt="Photo - W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]" title="W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]"><figcaption>W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-68c36db57049af76721f1f4cb9e0d99f.jpg" alt="Photo - Stephen Hilton performs in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]" title="Stephen Hilton performs in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]"><figcaption>Stephen Hilton performs in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0d93cdbd2f14dd80fc9754058aebf9bf.jpg" alt="Photo - Saxon Neal plays Young Scrooge and Kristin Küns plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]" title="Saxon Neal plays Young Scrooge and Kristin Küns plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]"><figcaption>Saxon Neal plays Young Scrooge and Kristin Küns plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c65bc77389c1226ef8c06b50d133cefa.jpg" alt="Photo - Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]" title="Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]"><figcaption>Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-bd3aa3db2704f5fbb8a54f09edb2049d.jpg" alt="Photo - W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]" title="W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]"><figcaption>W. Jerome Stevenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Holly cast of Lyric Theatre's 2020 production of "A Christmas Carol" at Harn Homestead. Lyric will return to the Harn Homestead, a living history museum near the state Capitol, for its 2021 production of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic. [K. Talley Photography]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-01554be9019c5dc9c670ce99bb22605f.jpg" alt="Photo - A rainbow shines over Pribil Stadium before the high school football game between Bishop McGuinness and Douglass at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. [The Oklahoman Archives]" title="A rainbow shines over Pribil Stadium before the high school football game between Bishop McGuinness and Douglass at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. [The Oklahoman Archives]"><figcaption>A rainbow shines over Pribil Stadium before the high school football game between Bishop McGuinness and Douglass at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. [The Oklahoman Archives]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b2a4f8f505f0e3a06f33e50efff4c134.jpg" alt="Photo - Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]" title="Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]"><figcaption>Dallas-based performer Denise Lee will present her new one-woman show, "Denise Lee: Pressure Makes Diamonds," as the opener for Lyric Theatre's 2021 season. [Photo provided]</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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