The Aerie, Yearbook of University of North Texas, 1990 Page: 72
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For the first time on campus, the musical
'Oklahoma!' makes its debute filling the University Theatre
with singing, dancing, laughter and a happy ending
efore Oklahoma was even a state, NT was a
school. And for the first time in the history
of NT, the musical "Oklahoma!" was per-
formed on campus.
"Oklahoma is probably one of the most loved
musicals; it is a standard," said Dr. Ed De Latte,
director of the musical. "It is the kind of show that
appeals to young as well as older people."
De Latte said the show changed the whole face
of the musical theater when it opened, in a non-
traditional manner, for the first time, years ago.
"Instead of a chorus on stage, the show had one
woman on stage churning butter and a man singing
off-stage which was precedent setting. The first act
ended. with a ballet which never had happened
before (The Dream Ballet; the Dream of Laurie),"
De Latte said.
"Oklahoma!" was based on an early American
play called "Green Grow the Lilacs," written by
Lynn Riggs. It was about the farmer and the cow-
man and the settling of the state of Oklahoma.
Because the idea of the play was basic, honest and
epitomized grass-roots America, the play had
wide-spread appeal, De Latte said. "A great deal of
it (the play) was about survival, heartbreaks and
the hardships of being a farmer in those days."
De Latte said of all the approximately 50 musi-
cals he had directed, "Oklahoma!" had never been
one of them until this performance in December.
"I've always wanted to do the show simply because
it was so well written."
The performance at NT was different from
many others due to the fact that there was no
money for an orchestra so the music was produced
electronically. "We only had one drummer and one
base player; the rest of it was all done electronical-
ly, new wave, if you will - musical theater having
an orchestra all done by a couple of synthesizers,"
De Latte said.
The music was programmed into a computer,
which in turn came out sounding like trumpets,
trombones and violins. Eddie White was the or-
chestra conductor who trained the singers and pro-
grammed the whole thing. "He (White) would
take every instruments' part, and note for note, he
would put it into his computer and it would come
out sounding like an orchestra. Also, he could
make the music faster, slower or even change the
key, if necessary, to fit the performer."
De Latte said the musical "Oklahoma!" was
special to him for it was the first musical he ever
saw as a youngster and the first major production
that made an impression on him. "The first scene
with the farmhouse and yard - everybody came on
stage and sang and danced - and then the magic
happened. The lights went out, and to my way of
thinking as a young person in those days, within no
time came back on again and that whole farmyard
disappeared and Judd's smokehouse was there -
and I didn't know how that happened." he said.
"I thought it was magic; it got me curious. I then
had to know the answers so I went to the library,
got books on plays, play productions and how you
make scenery and everything . . . and that kind of
started the ball rolling for me; it started working its
magic on me, and I was hooked."
When asked if "Oklaho-
ma!" was the best musical he
ever directed, De Latte said,
"I subscribe to a theory that
says, the play you like the
best is the one you happen
to be working on at the mo -
ment." But he added, "It's
always been a show I've wanted to do and it didn't
let me down. I would rank it with at least the top
ten of the musicals."
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University of North Texas. The Aerie, Yearbook of University of North Texas, 1990, yearbook, 1990; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth61055/m1/75/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.