The OU School of Musical Theatre has announced its 2021-2022 season lineup. The two main stage shows will be “She Loves Me” in the fall and “Pippin” in the spring, as well as the third production for the Downtown Series, “A New Brain.”
Director of the School of Musical Theatre Ashton Byrum said to pick the musicals for the year, class officers in the program talked with their peers to pick three musicals to submit to Byrum for consideration. He also said they wanted the students to be excited about the shows, especially given the amount of time they spend preparing them which is a big part of life in the School of Musical Theatre.
Byrum took the students’ suggested shows in addition to consulting with faculty and Dean Mary Margaret Holt, who produces the whole season, to settle on this musical season’s lineup.
The School of Musical Theatre confers with the School of Drama to figure out logistics of the productions and scheduling, Byrum said. The School Of Drama houses all of the design and production aspects of the shows, such as costumes and lighting design, and works on other university shows, including plays, ballets and operas in addition to musical theatre.
Byrum said he also always checks in with Max Weitzenhoffer, the namesake for the School of Musical Theatre and Broadway producer, to make sure he thinks the productions are a sound choice and the shows have integrity.
The School of Musical Theatre tries to expose its performers to an array of shows that vary in performance style, writing style, music style and time period.
“My philosophy is over four years, musical theatre majors should be exposed to lots of different genres of shows,” Byrum said.
COVID-19 has led the School of Musical Theatre to have to make adjustments for safety this past year, such as putting on smaller shows with masks and extra safety protocols. Live-streaming has been a positive addition to the School, as now many can watch the shows they may not have normally gotten to due to the pandemic.
"Pippin", a contemporary dance musical that was recently revived on Broadway, is a larger show that the School of Musical Theatre will be taking on, which Byrum said took some extra side meetings to figure out the logistics and scheduling, but was cause for extra excitement from students.
“It should be a great season, it’s such a nice way to celebrate getting back into the theatre,” said Byrum.