Seinfeld and Regan are also no strangers to performing in the Oklahoma City metro area, but not at the same venue. Fortunately, the metro has options: the Civic Center Music Hall, which turns 75 this year; and its younger sibling, the Rose State Performing Arts Theatre in Midwest City. Seinfeld can sell out the 2,477-seat Civic Center Music Hall, while Regan fills a respectable number of seats in the 1,346-seat Rose State Performing Arts Theater.
The Oklahoma City metro area has a number of options for entertainment, from small clubs for the hottest independent bands to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the biggest pop acts such as Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga. For a little culture, comedy or commentary, the Civic Center and Rose State offer a stage to entertainers on the road.
Since 1935, the Civic Center has hosted everything from basketball games and ice skating to the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and world-class performers. When it closed for renovations from the first MAPS project – 1997 to 2001 – the newly built Rose State facility got its chance to shine.
“I went to Rose State and said, ‘How would you like to be the cultural center of Oklahoma City for the next three years?” says Civic Center Event Manager Richard Charnay. “The original idea was to train them, and then when we left, they would take over. But it was such a symbiotic relationship that they said, ‘Please keep running this facility for us.’” Charney’s counterpart at Rose State,
Steve Sharpe, says the two venues do not compete, but rather work in harmony to improve the caliber of performances that come to town. He notes that acts that might not fill the Civic Center might skip Oklahoma City without the option of the smaller venue.
“We get shows that we would not get otherwise,” he says. “We’ve filled our niches. Some go to one place, some go to the other.”
He says performers such as author and humorist David Sedaris are a huge success because Rose is just the right size.
With everything from the Oklahoma City Philharmonic to comedian Bill Cosby and singer Paul Simon gracing the stages at the Civic Center and Rose, attention has been paid to make the artists’ accommodations attractive.
There are no austere, cinderblock-walled rooms with concrete floors.
“Our dressing rooms rival most hotel rooms,” Charnay says.
At the Civic Center, there are four “star” dressing rooms, and two “diva” dressing rooms, complete with comfortable furniture, soft lighting, roomy tables and mirrors, televisions and bathrooms with showers. The diva and star dressing rooms are comparable, but the divas are larger to accommodate a piano, if requested.
At Rose, two star dressing rooms replicate a luxurious hotel-room environment.
While both facilities feature some of the latest technologies in sound and lighting, both are getting older. Charnay says the Civic Center, last renovated more than a decade ago, undergoes frequent upgrades to keep it a top-tier facility. He says that, among comparable halls in the country, the Civic Center rates third in acoustics.
“We’re always upgrading our amenities and staying abreast of technical improvements,” he says.
Charnay says there is no show the facility cannot accommodate. He says it is “Phantom-ready,” referring to the intricate infrastructure needed to accommodate a lavish musical such as Phantom of the Opera.
At Rose, it is a similar situation. Sharpe says constant attention to the facility by Rose State, the city of Oklahoma City and the Civic Center keeps it at the cutting edge to house concerts, performances and events. He doesn’t mind being the Regan to the Civic Center’s Seinfeld.
“I never want to be thought of as less than the Civic Center,” he says. “It’s just smaller.”