- Lauren Hamilton
- Pollard theater in Guthrie, Okla. Photo by Lauren Hamilton
When the final curtain came down on Pollard Theatre Companys production of American Idiot, artistic director W. Jerome Stevenson came to the conclusion that the company should never second-guess its audience.
As it turned out, Green Day singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrongs Broadway adaptation of the rock acts 2004 concept album didnt alienate the Pollards older patrons all ages came ready to experience Jesus of Suburbia.
Ill never judge them again, Stevenson said. Ill never assume that I know more than they do these are sharp people.
So, for Pollard Theatre Companys 30th anniversary, the adventurous company located at 20 W. Harrison Ave. in Guthrie will mount a season in which classics share space with genre-defying new musicals.
Stevenson worked closely with Pollards artistic development committee to assemble the lineup, which begins Aug. 19 with A.R. Gurneys Sylvia. Originally produced off-Broadway in 1995, Sylvia recently completed a Broadway run starring Matthew Broderick and Annaleigh Ashford.
We knew we wanted to open with something charming and sweet and good-natured, Stevenson said. But we also didnt want it to be something that was so done. And with its history with Sarah Jessica Parker (in 1995) and Annaleigh Ashford on Broadway, its also a production with a strong female role.
The Pollard follows Sylvia with something far less sweet and good-natured, but with multiple strong female roles. Heathers: The Musical, premiering Oct. 7, brings the 1988 cult comedy to the stage with original music and lyrics by Laurence OKeefe and Kevin Murphy.
Stevenson said that the production definitely will appeal to nostalgic Gen Xers who fondly remember the scabrously funny Winona Ryder/Christian Slater dark comedy, but the production also will resonate because of its still-current subject matter.
Its a regional premiere for us, he said. Its funny and dark, but its also really prophetic. It really speaks to all those fears people have about high school and how it can affect you, how it can damage you if left unchecked. Also, it works great in October, because while its a dark comedy, its really kind of a horror show. Its kind of this generations Sweeney Todd in a weird kind of way.A Pollard season would feel incomplete without its wildly popular annual production of A Territorial Christmas Carol, Nov. 25-Dec. 23, which is to the Pollard as The Nutcracker is to ballet companies.
After a short break, the company returns Feb. 10-March 4 with American playwright August Wilsons Fences, which won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for drama and that years Tony Award for best play.
Set in Pittsburgh in the early 1950s, Fences examines issues of race relations, prison, war and the lingering effects of segregation. Also, HBO is currently producing a film version of Fences with a script adapted by Tony Kushner and Denzel Washington. Stevenson said he wanted Oklahoma audiences to see the production onstage before it hits the screen.
Its a powerful and striking play, he said. Its certainly a show I love for multiple reasons, and now weve got a large enough talent pool that its possible.
Pollard comes back from Wilsons drama on April 14 with a crowd pleaser, Mel Brooks The Producers, which Stevenson promised will feature some interesting casting decisions to mix things up for character Max Bialystock.
Then comes the proverbial split-lift of the 30th anniversary season as Pollard closes out with Bring It On: The Musical, an adaptation of the 2000 cheerleading comedy featuring music by Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda.
I have this rule about musicals and plays in general. Ill give it about 10 pages and Ill give it about two songs. If it hasnt connected for me by then, its not for me or its not for me right now, Stevenson said. Well, they had me engaged immediately because its Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt, who did American Idiot. Its kind of the antithesis of Heathers. Where Heathers is this gritty and, in a lot of ways, frightening look at high school, Bring It On is a much more John Hughes-y play where its all going to work out, the pretty girl is going to choose the loner kid and theyre all going to learn a valuable lesson in the end. How fun is that?
Visit thepollard.org for more information.
Print Headline: Eclectic legacy, The Pollard Theatre Company plans a wild ride for its 30th anniversary season.