Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park takes on iconic Noel Coward comedy with ‘Private Lives’


Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Noel Coward’s 1930 comedy “Private Lives” stars Greg White as Elyot and Renee Krapff as Amanda. Photo by April Porterfield

A version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman.

‘Private’ showing
Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park brings Noel Coward’s iconic comedy ‘Private Lives’ to the Paseo

Staging one of the most famous titles from one of the foremost British playwrights of the 20th century requires, in Emily Heugatter’s estimation, building a strong, clear metaphorical window.

And then gleefully shattering it.

“Comedy of manners, by definition, is a satirizing of the upper classes and the rules that bind them in their social position. Characters realize that they live and die by society’s opinions of them and their actions. What becomes fun is watching the characters throw off the constraints of societal expectations and behave like the truly crass, dirty, disgusting and ultimately loveable human beings that they are,” she said.

“I have described it to my actors as this: In Act I, we build the frame of a window through which the audience views the social expectations that make up this world. We spend the first act building a strong window, and then we spend the rest of the play smashing it in the most hilarious ways possible.”

In her directorial debut for Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, Heugatter is taking on one of the most enduring selections from the quintessential English multihyphenate: “Private Lives” by prolific British playwright, screenwriter, composer, director, actor and singer Noel Coward.

The uproarious production opens Thursday, with performances continuing through Aug. 27, at the company’s intimate space in the Paseo Arts District.

“It’s considered one of the best, the greatest comedies ever written. … This is like ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ on steroids,” said Kathryn McGill, executive and…

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