August 29, 2023
NORMAN, OKLA. – Broadway choreographer Josh Prince joins the University of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre as guest artist-in-residence for the Fall 2023 semester. He is set to direct University Theatre’s upcoming production of “Heathers” and will collaborate with student and faculty designers in the Helmerich School of Drama at OU.
Prince made his Broadway choreographic debut with the blockbuster hit Shrek, The Musical (Outer Critics Circle Nomination), which went on to tour the US, play in London’s West End, and tour the UK. He is also the choreographer of the award-winning Broadway show, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical (Olivier, Helpmann, and Astaire Award nominations). Beautiful has since toured the US, UK, Japan, and Australia. He also choreographed the Disney Cruise Lines adaptation of the mega-hit animated film, Frozen, and his work can be seen in Trevor, The Musical, now on Disney+ (Lucille Lortel nomination, Chita Rivera Award, Broadway World Chicago Award). Current projects include new musicals A Walk On The Moon and Bliss.
Prince has choreographed at multiple prestigious venues in New York City, as well as across the US and UK including: New York City Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, BAM, The New Group, Stage 42, George St. Playhouse, ACT, Fifth Avenue Theater, Signature Theater (DC), The Old Vic, Royal Festival Hall, and Royal Albert Hall. He also served as Director/Choreographer for the Canadian revival of Grease starring Janel Parrish at the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto.
In addition to Prince’s direction, the University Theatre production of Heathers will have choreography by OU Musical Theatre faculty member Karen Bethel and music direction by Mary Brozina Wierick.
Heathers is a dark comedy musical based on the classic 1989 film, Westerberg High is ruled by a shoulder-padded, scrunchie-wearing junta: Heather, Heather and Heather, the hottest and cruelest girls in all of Ohio. But misfit Veronica Sawyer rejects their evil regime for a new boyfriend, the dark and sexy stranger J.D., who plans to put the Heathers in their place - six feet under. The musical premiered off-Broadway in 2014 where it was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Music.
The cast of Heathers will include Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre students Keely Anders, Jackson Dunlap, Matthew Gordon, Rosie Granito, Abby Hesselroth, Mary Grace Humphries, Ginger Hurley, Isabel Kaegi (who worked with Prince in the Chicago premier of Trevor, The Musical), Helena Laing, Halle Lipton, Nathaniel Mahone, Cameron Majewski, Ellen Pierce, Duncan Smith, Merrick Theobald, Christian Tinajero, Anastasia White, Ashley Woytal, and Hunter Yocom.
The design team includes costume design by Jylian Humber, scenic design by Abby Knauber, lighting design by Kait Stapp, sound design by Richard Sprecker and properties by Elizabeth Elliott and Gage Martinez. Charis Christy serves as the stage manager and Emily Cashdollar and Madeline Lewis serve as assistant stage managers.
Heathers will have performances October 13, 14 and 20 at 8 p.m. and matinee performances on Oct.14, 15 and 22 at 3 p.m. at the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre on the University of Oklahoma campus. This production contains adult content.
Single tickets for Heathers go on sale September 25. Season subscriptions for the University Theatre season are now available. Tickets may be purchased online at theatre.ou.edu.
March 9, 2023
OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre will present Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar as part of its “Downtown Series” March 30 through April 2.
The OU Musical Theatre faculty-lead team includes assistant professor, Tim Espinosa, serving as director of the production. OU Musical Theatre professor Vince Leseney is musical director and OU Musical Theatre lecturer Michelle Rambo is choreographer.
Jesus Christ Superstar will have one preview performance on Thursday, March 30, and opening night is scheduled for Friday, March 31, followed by additional performances on April 1 and 2. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Myriad Water Stage and Plaza at the Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave. in Oklahoma City. This production is suitable for all audiences.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera that features the lyrics and music by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winners Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Rice and Webber originally released the show as a concept album in 1970. The success led to the show’s Broadway stage debut in 1971.
Jesus Christ Superstar is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks of the life of Jesus Christ, as seen through the eyes of Judas. Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane” and “Superstar,” among others.
“Jesus Christ Superstar is a seminal work in musical theatre history,” Espinosa said. “At the time of its conception, the creators of this show were listening and being influenced by artists such as Bob Dylan, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, The Who and David Bowie. Through the device of a concept album, Rice and Webber created a theatrical experience that has transcended our preconceived notions of what a musical can and should be.”
When asked about how this production differs from the recent national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, Espinosa explained, “In our production, we are excited to explore a concept that breaks down old binary structures in casting and empowers new communities of young artists to explore roles that were not traditionally written for them. With a cast led by several female-identifying performers, we are excited to explore a new way of communicating the 50-year-old musical that is relatable to a new generation of theatergoers, all while honoring the original intentions of the playwrights. My hope for the audience is that this show should feel like a cross between a dance concert and a rock gig, all while celebrating the legacy and magnitude of the original production.”
The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar will include Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre students Keely Anders as Judas, Lydia Campbell as Jesus, Matthew Gordon as Peter, Jesse Hanks as King Herod, Isabel Kaegi as Annas, Rodney McKinner as Caiaphas, Carter McPherson as Pontius Pilate, Sydni Moon as Mary Magdalene and Anastasia White as Simon.
The ensemble includes Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts students Rosie Granito, Mary Grace Humphries, Helena Laing, Halle Lipton, Sofia Macaluso, Cameron Majewski, Desmond Pouncil, Merrick Theobald, Manny Tijerina, Christian Tinajero and Ashley Woytal.
The design team includes Ben Hall, scenic designer; Paul Stafford, costume designer; Fabian J. Garcia, lighting designer; and Matthew A. Sykes, sound designer. The production staff includes Josh McGowen, stage manager; Gage Martinez, assistant stage manager; Jessica Carabajal, production manager; Michael Stafford, band leader; and Ashton Byrum, producer.
Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $15 for students with ID. Tickets for Thursday evening’s performance are $15 for adults, and $5 for students with ID. Tickets may be purchased online at musicaltheatre.ou.edu.