More Than OK: Cast and directors put in many hours leading up to musical

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Sally Panis

In one of the first rehearsals, the Oklahoma cast is busy memorizing their lines and getting into character.

Elaina Gibson , Staff Writer

As sophomore Tess Sollars auditioned for this year’s musical “Oklahoma,” she hit all the notes needed for fine arts teacher Robin Christie and director Kathryn Berry to grant her the lead role of Laurey Williams.

Before deciding on the musical “Oklahoma,” Christie had chosen “The Wizard of Oz” as this year’s musical. She changed it because of how well-known and greatly received “Oklahoma”  always is by an audience, Berry said. After further evaluation of the wide variety of the future cast’s talent, Christie decided “Oklahoma” would be the best fit. 

“While we had a lot of kids who are very talented and the “Wizard of Oz” is a wonderful show, there was the ability to include more students in “Oklahoma and I think that it’s the show that is catered towards the exact talent we have,” Berry said.

Following the choice of what show to perform the next step was casting. Through this process, each person sang a song from the production, and then Christie and Berry narrowed down the list of who received a callback. On the final day of auditions, together they spent three to four hours carefully assigning people parts that would best include their abilities.

“Through that night we then break it down, after a few students sing songs, a few students read and we send home the kids who we already decided on,” Berry said, “Being sent home doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done a bad job. A lot of the time it just means we know exactly where we want you and we don’t need you hanging around.”

The characters of “Oklahoma have many layers to them each with different attributes that make them stand out. One lead character is Will Parker, played by junior Peter Dessert. Will is interested in Ado Annie, another main character played by senior Polly Ayala. He is not the smartest and is trying to win her affection. 

“Peter Dessert will be tapping, which apparently is very exciting,” Berry said. “We have a really great tap number and a big hoedown dance number.”

Curley’s love interest Laurey is played by Sollars. She is courted by two rival suitors each trying to win her heart and at one point selling everything they own to do so.

“Laurey is a fiery, sort of independent character who is really in love with Curley, but she likes to tease him and likes to pretend she doesn’t love him, but she really does,” said Sollars

There are over 30 people in the cast and crew of “Oklahoma“, and each person is putting 100% effort in, according to Berry.

“I would say everyone who has been cast in leads is exceptional,” Berry said. “ One of the things I have been very impressed by is their work as a full ensemble because what you often find is that students who are not cast in the leads don’t care to put any leg work in particular,  but this group of kids, every single one of them sticks out on stage.”

The casting director and cast members want the student body to get excited about what is in store. Sollars says she likes the old-time music that is, unfortunately, going out of style and the fact you will see people shine in the musical who might not get the spotlight in everyday life. 

“It’s fun, and vivacious, and it has elements of danger and action in it, which I think you don’t always see,” Berry said. “As a Midwesterner, it kind of warms your heart because there’s so much familiarity with it.”