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Veteran artistic team guides NSU River City Players

 (Tahlequah, Okla.)—If experience is the teacher of all things, Northeastern State University’s River City Players are in good hands.

The River City artistic team, led by director Robyn Pursley, boasts a wealth of veteran skill that assembles excellent productions for Northeastern State University’s annual Stars in the Summer series.

“I really do love having the opportunity to direct RCP in the summers,” Pursley said. “It is a different theatre from what I engage with during the academic year. I get to work with some of my theatre students and some great individuals who perform for the shows. I also love working with the jazz program. It’s a professional-level production and I am very proud of the product we create.”

Also on the artistic team are vocal director Margie Green, music director Tommy Poole, choreographer Kira Jobe, and Pursley’s husband Scott is the production director. The 2011 season is Poole’s second with River City and Jobe’s third as choreographer. The Pursleys and Green have worked together on the art team for seven seasons.

“It is hard for me to imagine putting these shows together without Margie and Scott,” Pursley said. “Margie is one of the most talented vocal directors that I have ever encountered. She creates all the vocal arrangements for the songs and I love the fact that she is so creative and innovative. During rehearsal weeks, Scott designs and creates our set, lights and sound. Over the past few seasons he has made some changes to our lighting design that are phenomenal.”

Green credited Pursley’s leadership as another factor in the production’s cohesion.

“Robyn is incredibly talented and because of her creativity it is easy to do my job,” Green said. “She is a great friend and a pleasure to work with each summer.”

The association between River City and Pursley dates to 1999 when she joined as an NSU student. The following year she was named stage manager and she continued in the capacity while pursuing her graduate degree at Oklahoma State.

“After graduating from OSU, I came back to work one final season with River City,” she said. “That summer a faculty position in NSU’s theatre program came open, so I applied and was hired. In 2004 I directed one RCP show and designed costumes and since 2005 I’ve directed both productions.”

Green, a vocal music teacher in Bartlesville, first attended RCP as a child to watch her brother Jared Johnson, a drummer for the band. During her time as an NSU student she gained experience in stage performance as a member of RCP.

“When Robyn was named director she approached me about being the vocal director,” Green said. “I’ve always loved River City and thought it would be interesting to work on the creative aspects of the show.”

With five cast members returning from last season, the River City performers are also enjoying the benefits of experience onstage.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with my cast this season,” Pursley said. “At RCP we have a unique dynamic where we are all very close and supportive, much like a family, but we also maintain a quality level of professionalism with which I am very pleased.”

Pursley expressed gratitude for the support of NSU and the River City audiences and invited fans to the upcoming shows.

“We encourage people to check us out every season, because each year things are a little different,” she said. “We really do have some show-stopping numbers that will stay with patrons long after the performances.”

The Sequoyah Institute and the College of Liberal Arts at NSU present the Stars in the Summer series. Performances run through August 6 with shows every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

The River City Players venue is the Shawnee Street Theatre at 124 W. Shawnee St. in Tahlequah. River City Classic: Hits of the ’50s and ’60s is put on Fridays and Saturday afternoons. River City Retro: Hits of the ’70s and ’80s is performed Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Also included in the Stars in the Summer series are shows by Downtown Country. A Grande Ole Celebration is performed Fridays and as the Saturday matinee. This is Country Music! is presented on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Shows are at the University Playhouse at 300 N. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

Tickets remain on sale for Stars in the Summer. Prices are adults $12, NSU alumni and employees $10, seniors 60-over and groups of 12 or more $8, students and children $6. To reserve tickets call (918) 458-2075. For more information visit

Published: 7/26/2011 2:38:13 PM

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