(Not Provided / Lowell Sun)

"Oh, what a beautiful mornin'! Oh, what a beautiful day!"

That classic line from Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical "Oklahoma!" raises the curtain on North Shore Music Theatre's 64th season in Beverly, June 4-16.

"Our 2019 season marks the 10th season since we reopened this historic theater in 2010 — and I am still just as excited creating the season as I was in season one," said Bill Hanney, NSMT owner/producer.

As he planned the current season, he was surprised to discover that the classic had not been produced at NSMT in more than 25 years. And it was time to re-explore "Oklahoma!"

Melinda Lopez
Melinda Lopez (courtesy photo)

"Seventy-five years ago, Rodgers and Hammerstein re-invented musical theatre with 'Oklahoma!,''' Hanney said. "The musical celebrates the pioneering spirit of the settlers building new lives on the frontier and the patriotism surrounding the territory's impending statehood. It felt like the perfect time to create an all-new production for our signature in-the-round stage."

When "Oklahoma!" debuted on Broadway in 1943, it launched a new era in American musical theatre — fusing story, song and dance through Agnes de Mille's stunning choreography. It also began one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in Broadway history.


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At its heart, the show is a love story between Curly, a confident cowboy, and Laurey, a feisty farmer. The road to romance and the road to statehood converge as Curly and Laurey are poised to carve out a life together in a brand-new state. But the road is a bit bumpy and fraught with the dangers and excitement of the time.

The score includes such classics as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,'" "People Will Say We're in Love," "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "I Cain't Say No!" and the exhilarating title tune.

Blake Price and Madison Claire Parks lead the cast as Curly and Laurey, with support from Sean Bell as Will Parker, Melissa Carlile-Price as Ado Annie and Sue Cella as Aunt Eller. Alex Levin plays dark, brooding Jud Fry.

Charles Repole directs, Mara Newbery Greer choreographs and Mark Hartman is music director.

Tickets are $61-$88 at 978-232-7200 or visit www.nsmt.org or the box office at 62 Dunham Road, Beverly.

In the Wings with Nancye Tuttle

NORTON HONORS — Playwright Melinda Lopez won the prestigious Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence at last week's annual Elliot Norton Awards presented by the Boston Theatre Critics Association at the Huntington. Lopez, who grew up in Bedford and has acted at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, has become a respected playwright, including a playwriting residency at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston and numerous productions of her work there and across the country. In another Norton honor, Amanda Collins was presented with the Outstanding Actress, Midsize Theater for her work last season in Merrimack Repertory Theatre's "Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley." The awards are named in honor of the esteemed late Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton, who founded the awards 37 years ago and presided over them every year until his death in 2003 at age 100. For a full list of winners, visit www.elliotnorton awards.com.

POLITICAL HI-JINX — Laughter is the best medicine — especially with the current state of politics. And the Capitol Steps — the group that puts the "mock" in Democracy — bring their brand of elevated political satire to two area venues this week. Since 1981, the Washington, D.C.-based comedy troupe has engaged in bipartisan lampooning and has never let up. They play Cary Hall in Lexington on Friday, May 31, and Larcom Theatre in Beverly on Saturday, June 1. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $39-$59 at www.caryhalllexington.com, www.thelarcom.org, or call 800-657-8774.

KID STUFF —Raffi, one of the most popular performers for kids in the world, brings his infectious show to Worcester's Hanover Theatre for shows on Saturday, June 1, at 1 and 4 p.m. Best-known for his gold and platinum-selling recordings, including his iconic "Baby Beluga," he's also a tireless advocate for kids as well as an author and lecturer. Tickets $37.50-$47.50-$84.50; higher-priced ticket includes meet-and-greet. Call 877-571-7469 or www.thehanovertheatre.org/raffi.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.