It’s like Black Friday for thespians. Starting at 8am this Saturday, 5th Avenue Theatre will hand out free tickets to its February 5 performance of Oklahoma!. There are more than enough passes to go around (2,100), with a limit of four per household. All you have to do is queue up—hopefully not in the snow—and accept that fact that you’ll be missing the Super Bowl.
Ah yup. This free show is at the same time as the big game. But 5th Ave knows its audience—this giveaway is for the men, women, and children who only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials (and you can DVR those anyway). In exchange for a night of nachos, light beer, and extreme grunting, you’ll get to see an updated production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, with new choreography by Spectrum Dance’s Donald Byrd.
The Tony-nominated choreographer earned accolades for his work on Broadway’s The Color Purple and his collaborations with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. But since signing on as artistic director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater a decade ago, he’s taken the lead locally in creating unflinching, emotionally charged dance performances, interpreting everything from domestic abuse to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through modern dance. In his hands, and with the help of director Peter Rothstein, Oklahoma!will receive a more critical treatment. Don’t dismiss it as a lightweight cowpoke love story with a jaunty score ("Surrey With the Fringe On Top," anyone?). There’s a darkness to the script regarding turn-of-the-century race relations—in 1906, the Oklahoma Territory was home to one of the nation’s largest communities of freed slaves—and 5th Ave plans to honor that reality with an interracial cast. It’s a new look with a familiar score. The wind, as always, will go whipping down the plains.
5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave, Feb 3–Mar 4