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With New Works Initiative, Oklahoma City’s Lyric Theatre puts focus to staging new musicals

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma‘s New Works Initiative was developed to allow the theatre to commit to producing world premiere musicals. Through this program, Lyric supports the future of musical theatre, and is helping make Oklahoma a home for new musical development. NewsOK took a look into Lyric’s newest premiere, Mann…And Wife, to explore the evolution of the New Works Initiative and Artistic Director Michael Baron’s vision for the program.

The modern dating comedy “Mann … And Wife” marks the third world premiere production in three seasons for Lyric, after the 2014 musical mystery/romance “Triangle” [NAMT Fest 2012] and last year’s period piece “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” [NAMT Fest 2011]. Continuing through Feb. 21 at Lyric’s cozy Plaza District theater, the romantic comedy is part of the New Works Initiative Baron has championed at the more than 50-year-old company.

“I feel as a not-for-profit and a vibrant arts institution we should be adding to the canon of musical theater and that other places should be doing musicals that premiere here in Oklahoma. And that’s already beginning to happen,” Baron said in an interview.

“Some theaters have large reading series, some of them do lots of workshops, and I feel like the best use of our space and time is to actually do either the first kind of development production or the actual world premiere on its feet. Because there’s lots of new musicals and rarely do they get to get on their feet with costumes and all that. … And for us, it’s almost just as expensive to bring out the entire group for a workshop, so we might as well put it on the stage and do a full production.”


Photo: From left, Mateja Govich, Zachary Prince and Liz Shivener rehearse a scene from Lyric Theatre’s new musical “Mann … and Wife” at Lyric at the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th St., in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman.

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