Super Summer Theatre 2017 kicks off with sold-out ‘Oklahoma!’

Too many buyers, not enough tickets.

For the first time, Super Summer Theatre’s season opener — this year, a staged concert version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” — is sold out, except for a few night-of-performance tickets available at the gate.

It’s “the Las Vegas equivalent of ‘Hamilton,’ ” jokes SST advisory board member Tom Kovach.

But seriously, folks, “that’s never happened for a season opener before,” he notes. “We feel the community is embracing what we’re trying to do.”

Especially the community members who paid to be on stage at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, SST’s summer home.

Last year, about 40 SST supporters submitted bids for various “Oklahoma!” roles as part of SST’s annual Gala Under the Stars benefit; a few bids “went as high as $1,000,” says Kovach, the group’s fundraising consultant. (The group plans to repeat the casting auction at this year’s Sept. 10 gala.)

Overall, the casting auction — suggested by an SST board member who had moved from Chicago, where a similar program was successful — raised $15,000 to help support SST, which has an annual budget of about $800,000.

“There was a concerted effort several years ago to increase the production quality,” he notes.

In addition, the group raised $1 million two years ago for upgrades at Spring Mountain Ranch, from structural improvements to enhanced lighting and sound systems.

As for what’s taking place on stage this weekend, “it’s a mishmash,” director Troy Heard says of “Oklahoma!”

The performers will have scripts in hand, but the musical will be staged, he notes. “There’s movement — and a suggestion of costumes.”

But no dances, including the dream ballets that made “Oklahoma!” such a landmark when it debuted in 1943 — and introduced Broadway to the team of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. (They went on to create such smash musicals as “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music.”)

During the rehearsal process, cast members have been working with music director Megan Schnizlein to prepare their renditions of such “Oklahoma!” standards as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love” and the rousing title tune.

After all, as Heard points out, “anyone can get up on stage and read a line.” But Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “beautiful music,” in his view, plays a major role in the show’s continuing appeal.

So does the show’s “simple story,” which the director characterizes as “boy meets girl, boy finds angry farmhand in the way, boy gets girl.”

Set in 1906, “Oklahoma!” focuses on the romance between cowboy Curly McLain (played by Jonathan Tuala) and farm girl Laurey Williams (Brooke O’Gara), in a time and a place where one musical number argues that “The Farmer and the Cowman” should be friends. The farmhand threatening to come between them: obsessed loner Jud Fry (Jonathan Baltera), a hired hand who works for Laurey’s Aunt Eller (Terri Janison).

And for comic relief, there’s another romance between another cowboy, Will Parker (Callum McCarthy), and his flirtatious fiancee, Ado Annie Carnes (Jessica Vanek), the girl who “Cain’t Say No.”

Ultimately, in Heard’s view, “Oklahoma!” is “about people going to forge this new community.”

And, in the process, it reflects SST’s goal to provide “greater opportunity for involvement,” Kovach says, for the Las Vegas community.

Contact Carol Cling at or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

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