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Trio of OKC Theater Companies Takes Cooperation Earnestly

Wendy Mutz

Three Oklahoma City theater groups are joining together for a production of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

The leaders of City Rep, Oklahoma City University’s School of Theater and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park have combined their resources to bring the classic play to OCU’s Burg Theater April 5-14.

Lance Marsh, Artistic Director of TheatreOCU, is directing the play, the single most performed work at the school.

“OCU regularly co-produces with both City Rep and Shakespeare in the Park,” Marsh said. “But it’s the first time that we thought, ‘Let’s bring all three companies together.’”

“That kind of synergy brings something new,” said Don Jordan, the artistic director of City Rep. “Every time we create in the theater, we create from scratch.”

Jordan also said the co-production allows good stewardship of each company’s resources.

“We each contribute to the production, making the production rather more expensive than any one of our entities could have done alone,” he said.

Shakespeare in the Park’s executive and artistic director Kathryn McGill is also taking on the role of Miss Prism in the play. As the longest serving leader among the three, McGill is encouraged by the health of Oklahoma City’s live theater community.

“I think this is the best time to be in theater in Oklahoma City, honestly,” McGill said. “When we started the company in 1985… there were probably two others at that time. Now we’ve got like 10 theaters.”

Both Jordan and Marsh agree and say the vibrancy of the Oklahoma City metro means the community could support even more professional theater.

“Oklahoma City has a terrific reputation for young talent and has a really rich history theatrically, but it has largely been community (theater) history,” Jordan said.

It’s only been in the last 10 years, according to Jordan, that the metro has made the commitment to move forward and recognize the kinds of things it needed to be a great city.

“We need great arts, just like we need great education, just like we need great amenities,” Jordan said. “It’s part of the quality of life that will attract business.”

Performances of The Importance of Being Earnest are at the Burg Theatre in the OCU Fine Arts Building through April 14.

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