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Local and National Talent Come Together in Live “Radio” Show

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COLLINSVILLE, OKLAHOMA, September 6, 2013 – Collinsville is about to experience a rare coming together of creative talent on a national level. It’s happening this fall at The Main Street Radio Players, a live, monthly comedy show inspired by the Golden Age of radio. The series will feature original scripts by playwrights from around the country, performed by talented local actors.

Playing at Herron’s Crown Opry Theater the third Saturday of each month from now through December, each performance features a half dozen short, original radio plays, written specifically for this show by writers from as far away as Arizona, New York, Connecticut and Utah, and as close as Owasso and Tulsa.

Many of the scripts draw laughs by presenting a new twist on old-fashioned serial adventures, with a new episode each month. Audiences will follow the journeys of Blackbeard the pirate’s seasick brother, Greenbeard the Billious; marvel at the incompetence of Captain Starblaster’s galactic explorations; and get caught up in a soap opera where all the characters are prairie dogs.

Three of the show’s writers are locals. Nathan Christensen, from Owasso, is a nationally award-winning musical theater writer who was in residency earlier this summer at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. His contributions include the soap opera Prairie Dog Lane, and The Adventures of Buck and Billy Boy, a parody of the Lassie stories. Also from Owasso, novelist Grant Gardner is creating a serialized crime thriller, called Dangerous Love. And Tulsa writer Laura Gatannah has prepared a treat for the Thanksgiving show, called Over the River, in which a family reunion takes a turn for the fantastical.

The Main Street Radio Players also highlights gifted local actors who, in true radio style, will perform without sets or costume changes, relying on storytelling and the human voice to create a wide array of eccentric characters. The core ensemble is composed of Tim Cox, Missy Hays, Gordon Heard, Zena Lewis, Sloopy McCoy, Kasey O’Connor and Candace Townsley. Also making special appearances with the cast will be Tricia Jumonville, Michael Lewis, Karie Fountain, Ken Thornhill and Mary Ann VanCuren.

In addition to the actors, each performance will feature local musical talent. The musical guests for the first performance, on September 21st, will be young singers from Foyil Music Studio of Owasso, performing a variety of music, including American standards like “Summertime”, by George Gershwin.

The Main Street Radio Players is a co-production of Seven Lively Arts and Herron’s Crown Opry Theater. Performances will be Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec. 21 at 7:00 at Herron’s Crown Opry Theater (1015 W. Main St., Collinsville, OK). Doors open at 6:00. Tickets are available at the door: $10 for adults, $5 for children (12 and under).



Tulsa-Area Musical Theater Writer Earns National Recognition

OWASSO, OKLAHOMA, May 15, 2013 – Owasso-based writer Nathan Christensen has earned one of just three spots in the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference. His musical Broadcast—about the Golden Age of radio—was chosen from over 175 applicants to receive two weeks of intensive development, as well as exposure to the nearby New York theater community.

Together with his co-writer, composer Scott Murphy, Christensen will have the opportunity of working with Broadway-caliber professional actors, director and musicians. The conference is structured around a cycle of intensive rehearsals and public performances, followed by revisions and fine-tuning to the script and score. This rigorous process is meant to result in a polished work ready for production in New York or regional theaters.

Christensen’s previous work with Scott Murphy was a musical adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. In 2010, The Giver was featured in the National Alliance for Musical Theater’s Festival of New Musicals in New York City, with Broadway legend Terrence Mann (original casts of Les Miserables, Cats, Beauty and the Beast) in the title role. The Giver has also appeared in other new works festivals at theaters across the country.

Christensen has received a Richard Rodgers Award and a Jonathan Larson Award, and was named to the Dramatists Guild’s “50 to Watch” list. He received his MFA in musical theater writing from New York University, and has studied writing with such Broadway legends as Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Seussical), Michael John LaChiusa (Wild Party, Marie Christine) and William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Falsettos). Christensen was an assistant to Finn on the Broadway-bound production of Spelling Bee, even contributing jokes that went on to be included in the official script.

In 2012, after eight years in New York, Christensen moved to Owasso, not far from his hometown of Bartlesville. While continuing to write, he is also developing a creative events company called Seven Lively Arts, which will collaborate with arts organizations, communities and businesses in developing out-of-the-ordinary theatrical and cultural experiences. Projects already in development include a large-scale interactive game being planned for Collinsville Downtown Inc., a radio play-style comedy show to be produced at Herron’s Crown Opry Theater this fall, as well as a series of interactive theater pieces designed to be performed for private gatherings and company socials.


Reference Links:
O’Neill Conference write-up in Variety
O’Neill Conference write-up in Playbill
The Giver featured at NAMT

Nathan Christensen
(479) 466-9426
sevenlivelyarts [at] cox [dot] net