Memphis may really be in Tennessee, but Theatre Memphis is in full Oklahoma! mode with a revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical as their season opener. Directed by Cecelia Wingate with choreography by Jesus Pacheco, scenery is by Christopher McCollum, with costumes by Andre Bruce Ward and lighting by Ken Friedhoff.

“The director wanted a very different look than what one might usually expect for Oklahoma!,” says McCollum. “She also wanted to have chorus at different levels as much as possible, so I came up with a permanent structure that would change looks depending on a layering of different elements, as the scene required. One of our biggest challenges is that we don't have a lot of depth, only about 25' from plaster line. To create a sense of endless sky, I came up with a cyc and legs and borders all made of unbleached muslin. This presented the lighting designer with a real challenge: to create a smooth wash with limited resources. Also, the basic wooden structure is asymmetrical so some legs could be back lit, while others could only be front lit.”

Oklahoma! runs at Theatre Memphis through September 14, 2008.

Ellen Lampert-Gréaux