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OCTC Opens Third Season with a Song
by Elizabeth Warren

Every night is a grand night for singing as Sedona Arts Center’s Oak Creek Theatre Company opens its third season with a collection of the very best of Rodgers and Hammerstein. A Grand Night for Singing previewed on October 11 and runs through November 12 at SAC’s Charles W. Raison Theatre in Uptown Sedona.

"A Grand Night for Singing is pure joy to experience," said OCTC Producing Artistic Director Mary Guaraldi. "It’s better than a ‘best of’ CD - it’s gathering all of our favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein songs together and then bringing them to life on stage."

A Grand Night for Singing is a Tony Award-nominated Broadway hit — a journey through the beguiling musical landscape of the most important collaboration in American theatre history. Many of the duo’s most memorable gems are woven into the production — from Oklahoma!’s "Surrey With a Fringe on Top" to South Pacific’s "Some Enchanted Evening."

"Music and theatre go hand-in-hand," says Guaraldi. "Last year, we brought the timeless magic of Patsy Cline to the stage, and this year we celebrate the partnership that changed American theatre forever."

Together, Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist) joined forces and began to change the face of musical theatre. Their first collaboration, Oklahoma!, was the first of a new genre, the musical play, which combined Rodgers’ musical comedy sensibilities with Hammerstein’s operetta. The milestone was followed by Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and more. Collectively, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals earned 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards.

"We have a phenomenal group of performers and artistic staff on this production," said Guaraldi. "Lynne Wieneke starred in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma! and our musical director, Eric Tucker, is an unforgettable baritone and a wonderful teacher."

A Grand Night for Singing features Don Fierro, Nathaniel Hackman, Cathy Miller and Lynn Wieneke. Wieneke has sung professionally all around the world, and starred as Laurie in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. Miller, a familiar singer to Sedonans (with a fantastic voice), lists among her credits My Fair Lady, La Boheme and Madam Butterfly. Hackman, from Phoenix, is a vocal performance major at Northern Arizona University, and has sung in many styles. Fierro is a recent Sedona resident by way of Hollywood, where he worked behind the scenes in advertising and for the Fox Family Channel.

Guaraldi directs A Grand Night for Singing. A writer, teacher and producer, she has directed at regional theatres around the country. Guaraldi has worked with Horton Foote, Roddy MacDowell, Jon Cypher and Amanda Plummer. Recent directing credits include OCTC hit shows Always...Patsy Cline and Forever Plaid.

A Grand Night for Singing Musical Director Eric Tucker is the most recent addition to the NAU vocal performance staff, and most recently performed as a soloist with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra’s Pops at Poco. Choreographer Celeste Headlee is an announcer for KNAU and was recently seen in OCTC’s production of Sanders Family Christmas. Accompanist Rebecca Cauthen teaches piano and accompanies professionally, and worked with OCTC last on Forever Plaid. Set designer Tim Bryson is on the NAU theatre faculty, and worked with OCTC on their productions of The Dining Room and Sanders Family Christmas. Professional lighting designer Edwin Nagy rejoins OCTC for A Grand Night for Singing.

"We couldn’t be any more delighted to begin our third season," says Guaraldi. "The support of the community has been immeasurably important as bit by bit we grow and expand." Following A Grand Night for Singing, OCTC’s third season continues with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in December, Later Life in February, and The Foreigner in April.

"We are looking for a new home," said Guaraldi. "After this season, the Arts Center will be moving to a new location. This is an exciting time for us, and now more than ever we will rely on our community’s support."

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays — Saturdays, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Sundays. General admission to A Grand Night for Singing is $15, with a $12 price available to members of SAC and a $9 price for full-time students. Group rates are available, call for details.

Tickets can be purchased on line at OCTC’s secure website, www.sedonaartscenter.com/OCTC, locally by phone at 520.282.3809, or toll-free at 888.954.4442. Tickets are also available at OCTC outlets: Rycus’ Corners, Sedona Art Supplies, Sedona Arts Center Gallery and Gift Shop, Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the Tlaquepaque Information Booth.

All Wednesday night performances are $10 with a donation of non-perishable food items, based on seating availability. Sundays feature the popular "Curtain Call" program, a post-show discussion with the actors and director of the production. Don’t miss this behind-the-scenes peek into the world of professional theatre.

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