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July 22, 1993|ANNE LOUISE BANNON

For fans of the musical stage, it's a Rodgers and Hammerstein weekend, featuring two of the musical team's more enduring hits.

The Foothill Youth Summer Theater opens on Friday for two weekends with "Oklahoma!"and the Glendale Centre Theatre is in the middle of its run of "The King and I."

"Oklahoma!" debuted on Broadway in March, 1943; it was the first collaboration between the composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. It has a basic "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl" plot set in the Oklahoma territory circa 1907.

Rodgers, who had several hit shows with lyricist Lorenz Hart under his belt, was commissioned by the Theatre Guild to do a musical version of "Green Grow the Lilacs," by Lynn Riggs. Hart opted out, and Rodgers turned to Hammerstein, a successful lyricist who had worked with composer Jerome Kern, among others. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Foothill Youth production, which is the culmination of a five-week class, features about 56 area young people ranging in age from 10 to 23.

"I think the main thing is to pull off the most professional kind of production that I can, and so I expect a lot of my students, but I also try to have a good time," said director and teacher Marlys Marsteller.

It was a last-minute decision for the Glendale Centre Theatre to do "The King and I"--based on the novel "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon--which originally opened on Broadway in March, 1951.

"We were actually scheduled to do 'The Sound of Music,' " said director Ellen Wheeler, but the rights to that play were not available.

"That put us at sort of a last-minute status. What was attractive about ("The King and I") was knowing that we had a leading lady and a leading man who could play those roles."

Those roles being Anna, a British school teacher, and the King of Siam, whose clashes (set in the 1860s) make up most of the plot.

"Oklahoma!" can be seen at the La Canada High School Auditorium, 4463 Oak Grove Drive, La Canada Flintridge, at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and July 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and July 31. Tickets are $8 to $10. For more information, call (818) 790-8860.

"The King and I" will run through Aug. 7 at the Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a matinee this Saturday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $11.75 to $14.25. Call (818) 244-8481 for information and reservations.

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