Bicentennial Park presents ‘Oklahoma!’
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 11:16AM
The audience sits on the hillside at the theater at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in Joliet. | Courtesy
♦ June 15-July 1
♦ Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park, 201 W. Jefferson St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $8-$10
♦ (815) 724-3760
An award-winning musical will run for three weekends at the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in Joliet.
Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park, Inc. presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Performances will be at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays June 15, 16, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and July 1 in the park’s indoor theater. The play is directed by Mark Parker of Wilmington.
“It is set in Oklahoma just before it became a state in 1907,” he said. “It’s your basic love story with some sub plots added.”
Curly and Laurie are star crossed lovers but are too proud to admit it. With the town social coming up, they each go with other dates. Laurie goes with farmhand Judd, who’s not a great guy. But things work out in the end.
“It’s the quintessential fairytale love story set in the Oklahoma territory,” he said.
It’s a fairly famous musical because it was the first to integrate songs into the story, he said.
“The songs propelled the storyline,” he said. “They’re not just there for the actors to come onstage and sing.”
Some of the world’s greatest-known show tunes are from this musical, including “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “Surry With a Fringe on Top” and “Oklahoma!”
The cast of 26 is coming along very well, he said.
“They’re striving to put on a great show,” he said.
Since a lot of people are already familiar with the stage or movie version of “Oklahoma,” Parker didn’t want to change too much. He’s isn’t averse to updating the set, however.
“We kind of wanted to do something a little different look-wise,” he said. “Since it is has that storybook Old West feel, the whole scenery behind it is pop-up storybook. Technically it is really exciting to watch. The dancing is fantastic and the singers are talented. I think everyone is going to be pleased and not necessarily be getting what they thought they would get – just a run of the mill ‘Oklahoma’ production. It’s a fun time. The cast is really enjoying it and I think that is going to show through in their performances.”