Next, we chatted with Michael Baron, the Producing Artistic Director at NAMT member Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. The company is about to open the world premiere of Distant Thunder by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Shaun Taylor-Corbett and Chris Wiseman. Lyric Theatre has received a grant for this production from the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals.
Darrell Waters, a successful young attorney, returns to his childhood home in Montana to broker a deal that can benefit the impoverished Blackfeet Nation. He soon faces his reclusive father about their painful past and grapples with the paradigm of what it means to be Native American in the United States. Cultures collide and unite through music, dance, stories and faith as we witness the dawning of a Distant Thunder.
What is Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s history with new works, and how does this new production of Distant Thunder fit into your overall commitment to new works development?
Lyric began our New Works Initiative in 2014 with a production of Triangle (NAMT Fest ’12) by Tom Mizer and Curtis Moore. Our audiences still talk about that show and the excitement of having a new work given a full production here in Oklahoma. I felt it was important that Lyric not only produce new productions of musicals from the canon but that we contribute to it as well. The value of having composers in residence working on their material and having a full production outside of the critical eye of New York has been thrilling to the artists and our audiences alike. Subsequent new musical premiere highlights have included Adam Gwon and Julia Jordan’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair (NAMT Fest ’11), Doug Cohen and Dan Elish’s Mann…and Wife (now titled The Evolution of Mann), and Alana Jacoby and Scotty Arnold’s When We’re Gone (fka Mortality Play, NAMT Fest ’16). Since Oklahoma is home to 39 nations, Lyric is a perfect theatre to premiere Distant Thunder. Lyric will be able to nurture and develop the production in an arena of artistic safety and in a geographic area that embraces multiple tribes.