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Holy Vespers, Home for the Holidays and ‘Noises Off’ – Oklahoma City University’s finest

The magnificent worship space at First Presbyterian Church, N.W. 25 and Western Ave., will be the setting for Oklahoma City University’s annual Christmas Vespers as the sun sets on Saturday, Dec. 9, beginning at 4 p.m. Photo provided .

Staff Report


For the holy season of Christmas, and the festive fun of the holiday spirit, there’s no place quite like Oklahoma City University. The second full weekend of December brings the annual blessing of Christmas Vespers, the stunning excellence of the “Home for the Holidays” performance and, on a raucous note, uproarious performances of the Broadway hit, “Noises Off.”

OKCU invites the community to celebrate the season with Christmas Vespers. More than 250 singers and orchestra musicians will perform a celebratory concert featuring organ, scripture readings, poetry, congregational singing of favorite carols and a candlelit finale.

Christmas Vespers will be presented in an evening version at 8 p.m. Friday, December 8, a matinee at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 – beneath the glow of the renowned stained glass windos of Oklahoma City’s First Presbyterian Churchm 1001 N.W. 25 Street.

Performers will include university organists Melissa Plamann and the Oklahoma City University Vespers Orchestra, under the direction of Jeffrey Grogan. Susan Barber, the university’s former provost, will narrate the 39th annual event.

“Every Vespers we try to do something a little different,” Randi Von Ellefson, director of choral activities, said. “This year will be a perfect blend of the traditional and the new.”

The concerts will open with a 2017 work by David Rasbach, “We Shall Light a Thousand Candles,” followed by an orchestral version of “We Three Kings” and three movements from “Jubilate Deo – Rejoice in God” by Dan Forrest. The evening will conclude with “Night of Silence,” the traditional candlelight recessional inspired by “Silent Night.” Ellefson and Tony Gonzalez will lead the choirs.

A musical prelude will be held 30 minutes before each concert, featuring student organists and the Oklahoma City University Flute Choir, under the direction of Parthena Owens.

For tickets and additional information, visit


From magical ballet productions to fast-paced, spirited tap, swinging jazz and song and dance music theater numbers, OKCU dancers are bringing Broadway entertainment to Oklahoma City for their annual “Home for the Holidays” Christmas extravaganza.

Directed by Jo Rowan, dance chair at Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment, “Home for the Holidays” runs from Dec. 7 through 10 in Oklahoma City University’s Kirkpatrick Auditorium at 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave.

Show times are 8 p.m. Dec. 7, 8 and 9, and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 405-208-5227 or visiting Group rates are available.

“We have a uniquely, high-quality professional show,” Rowan said. “It is a sparkling Christmas gift for the entire family. There are so many diverse American dance styles that seeing the show is like a Broadway experience without having to travel to New York.”

This year’s show features new dances as well as returning favorites. The Rockette-style “Santa Kickline,” “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “March of the Toy Soldiers” are all back by popular demand.

Former Radio City Music Hall assistant choreographer Vincent Sandoval has brought his Rockettes choreography expertise to Oklahoma City University. Sandoval, an artist-in-residence for dance, has choreographed the opening number “Let It Snow” for 28 ladies — the Starettes.

“First Snow” follows as winter spirits float through a cold, glistening woodland scene and couples enjoy a “Snow Frolic” amid intricate partnering.

“The lifts are just spectacular,” Rowan said, “and the audience experiences the exciting magic of snow falling throughout the theater.”

The show then moves into a fast paced hip hop rendition of “The Christmas Song,” which Rowan described as “representative of American ingenuity and feistiness,” music theater comedy with “The Christmas Shopper’s Can Can” and a visit from Saint Nick himself in “Must Be Santa Claus.”

Act I closes with a nod to the Christian traditions of Christmas in “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

Highlights in Act II include a perpetual line of continuous dancers in the “Holly Kick-line,” a 1940s era “Jingle Bells,” life-size dancing cookies, a colorful rendition of “Halleluyah” and a new Nativity for the show’s closing.

Rowan said the show is a collaboration of love for teaching, learning and first-class entertainment.

“We have a culture of educators who work together to make the show the best it can be,” she said. “Students are taught how to be professional. We are preparing students to work on Broadway.”

The Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment recently was ranked the No. 1 BFA dance program in the country, ahead of Juilliard and New York University, by OnStage. OCU is a leading collegiate provider of Radio City Rockettes and more than 70 alumni have performed on Broadway in more than 85 shows.

The original “Play that goes wrong” – “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn – will be performed in the Burg Theatre Dec. 7-10. Show times are 8 p.m. Dec. 7, 8 and 9; and 2 p.m Dec. 9 and 10. Tickets are available by calling (405) 208-5227.

Arguably the funniest farce ever written, “Noises Off” presents a manic menagerie as a cast of itinerant actors rehearse a theatrical flop called “Nothing’s On.” Missed cues, fluffed lines, slamming doors, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play.

It was the winner of the 1982 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and 1984 Tony Award Nominee for Best Play. “Noises Off” is guest directed by the award-winning stage director Dan Fishbach.


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