This summer I decided to work in the ensemble of a classic musical, Oklahoma. I hadn't worked on a classic like this show before and I haven't really danced in a musical in years, so I thought it would be a great experience. Let me start off by saying that is has been.
Every actor knows that you start a new project not really knowing everyone. You work together every day for weeks playing off each other and trying to create magic, and after weeks of working scenes, dances, and music the show starts to take on a life of its own. Theatre is living. That is why a classic show like Oklahoma is such a strange thing to be a part of. You connect to actors that have their own experiences that they draw off, and some may be classical and others--most--will be more comfortable with modern works. Not to mention real life experiences that connect each of us to the audience that we are trying to reach. Our director works with an immersive theatre group, and he let that spill into our production. Immersive theatre, for those that don't know, is an experience unlike traditional theatre. If you have ever been to a Renaissance fair,
or the dickens fair then you have been to an immersive theatre event. The audience walks about and lives the event as actors live the lives of their characters. So we lived our lives in the lobby before the show and made our entrances from the house talking to audience members. It was unlike any other Oklahoma experience they have had (I'm pretty sure).
I'm not really a fan of a lot of classic musicals, but I have to say that I will never get over the gold that is living theatre. And every show is living, even the classics. I am happy to put aside any feelings I have about outdatedness because I know that if the company is good and the direction is too, any show can become a hit in its own time.