Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma will present the world premiere of the Native American Musical Distant Thunder in spring 2021 as part of the organization’s New Works Initiative.
“In March of this year, our rehearsals were cut short due to the pandemic, but we are hoping to welcome back the Distant Thunder family in the spring of 2021,” said Lyric’s Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron. “Now, more than ever, we need to remember the importance of new musical works in their ability to give voice, share experiences and celebrate the lives of diverse peoples and cultures. I am proud to have Distant Thunder premiere at Lyric Theatre, where Native American tribes are an integral and important part of the state of Oklahoma. Please enjoy this special preview from the performers of Distant Thunder, a powerful, heartfelt and inspiring story of modern Native American life.”
“Like many other artists, the path for our show was blocked by the pandemic. In the case of Distant Thunder, this happened days before our opening at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma,” said the authors of the show Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Shaun Taylor-Corbett and Chris Wiseman. “We were fortunate to have a strong leader in Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron, who had rescheduled the show in the 2021 season before he brought the difficult news to us. Our cast was safely on planes within 48 hours. Fighting through the feelings of loss in subsequent weeks, we put together this performance of one of our songs, a message, deeply embedded in Native culture: endure and continue to tell stories that enlighten and inspire and ‘Hold On’ to our collective humanity.”
Distant Thunder centers on Darrell Waters, a successful young attorney, who returns to his childhood home in Montana to broker a deal that can benefit his tribe, the impoverished Blackfeet Nation. He soon faces his reclusive father about their painful past and grapples with the paradigm of what it means to be Native American in the United States. Cultures collide and unite through music, dance, stories and faith as we witness the dawning of a Distant Thunder.
The book is written by famed director/choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett and her actor/writer son, Shaun Taylor-Corbett. Distant Thunder features music and lyrics by Chris Wiseman and Shaun Taylor-
Corbett, with additional music and lyrics from Robert Lindsey-Nassif and Michael Moricz. The production will be directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett and feature scenic and lighting designs by Shawn Irish and costume design by E.B. Brooks. Music direction will be provided by Michael Morris with stage management by Laurena Sherrill.
Casting for the production includes: Shaun Taylor-Corbett (Darrell), Ryan Duncan (Hector/Sam Silver), Spencer Battiest (Tonto), Xander Chauncey (Jim Running Crow), Jonathan Lynch (Smudge), Chelsea Zeno (Shareen/Tourist), April Ortiz (Betty Still Smoking), Brent G. Florendo – Sitwalla – Pum (Old Man), Jeff Barehand (White Feather), Matoaka Little Eagle (Grandma Jingle Dress), Carolyn Dunn (Roberta), Katie McCollum (Aiyana), Johnlee Lookingglass (Sheriff Running Buck), Angela Gomez (Dorothy Dark Eyes), and Chava Florendo (Pow Wow Singer/Musician).
Lynne Taylor-Corbett has been nominated for two Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for Broadway’s Swing! And received Drama Desk and Lortel nominations for My Vaudeville Man and Wanda’s World. She directed and choreographed Cougar the Musical and KICK! Off-Broadway. She adapted and directed The Lion King for Disney’s production in Hong Kong, and her choreography can be seen in feature films Footloose and My Blue Heaven. Her dance works have been commissioned by, among others, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Carolina Ballet, where she is resident guest choreographer. Numerous companies throughout the world have performed her works, which have been seen on Live from Lincoln Center, Live from the San Francisco Opera House and on UNC TV. Presently, she is working on a book entitled Token White Girl about her experiences dancing with the Alvin Ailey company throughout Europe and Africa.
Shaun Taylor-Corbett starred in the original production of In The Heights on Broadway and closed the show in the role of Sonny. Inspired by so many great musicals from his past, including his stint as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, Juan in Altar Boyz and Usnavi and Sonny in In The Heights, he and his mother decided to make a musical for Native People. Much of the plot of Distant Thunder stems from a trip the two of them took to the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana, when he was 15 years old. In Los Angeles, he has worked closely with Native Voices as an ensemble member – acting, directing and writing to create new works by Native Americans for the stage. He is currently an acting company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 2014, he was honored as an artist of distinction by the Association of American Indian Affairs for his work on Jersey Boys and Distant Thunder.
This marks the sixth production in Lyric’s New Works Initiative, which began with the world premiere of Triangle (2014), Bernice Bobs Her Hair (2015) and Mann… And Wife (2016) and When We’re Gone (2018) – all staged at the Plaza Theatre. Lyric unveiled a new production of Disney’s When You Wish during the 2017 Summer at the Civic Center season.
Lyric received a Production Grant, part of the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals, from the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) to assist with the production of Distant Thunder. Additional show support comes from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Osage Foundation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation/Grand Casino, Sac and Fox Nation and The Chickasaw Nation. Lyric’s season sponsors are Devon Energy, The Chickasaw Nation, Allied Arts, The Oklahoman, The Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Distant Thunder will be staged at Lyric at the Plaza, 1725 NW 16 St., in spring 2021.
For information on how to support the Lyric Theatre production of Distant Thunder through individual donations or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kerrie Brinkman-White at (405) 524-9310, ext. 211 or Kerrie@LyricTheatreOKC.org.
For press information, please contact Michael Bratcher-Magallanez at (405) 524-9310, ext. 213 or Bratcher@LyricTheatreOKC.org.
For more information, visit LyricTheatreOKC.org or call Lyric’s box office at (405) 524-9312.