‘OKLAHOMA!’ takes to the stage at David Douglas High

Have a sneak peek, and find out why you should make plans to see this lively musical love story, filled with dance numbers, played out on a fabulous set, starting on December 2nd  …

David Douglas High student actors senior Corey Taylor-Cedarleaf (playing Curley) and junior Rene Olson (playing Laurie Williams) prepare for their roles in the new production of “Oklahoma!”, set to première on December 2nd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Now playing at the Horner Performing Arts Center at David Douglas High School (DDHS) is a new production of the singing, dancing musical, “Oklahoma!.

“This is a great musical play, well-known to most people,” said DDHS drama instructor, and the show’s director, Judy LeCoq, at a recent rehearsal. “It’s got a show with a ‘sing-along kind of feel’, with lots of toe-tapping tunes.”

Above all, it is a love story, LeCoq pointed out. “It is an ‘actor’s musical’ – a not just a song and dance show. There are some tremendous singing parts, but the singers must be able to truly act – there are many dramatic moments in this play – as the story is told. Even the dance numbers tell stories.”

Judy LeCoq directs student actors DDHS senior Carson Cook (who plays Will Parker) and junior Tabbitha Sibrel (as Ado Anne Karnes), as they work on one of the many, colorful dance numbers (or perhaps a live scene) in “Oklahoma!”.

One of the dramatic moments of the play comes when junior Johnny Nguyen (as Judd Fry) and Corey Taylor-Cedarleaf (Curley) fight it out – over the love of woman.

Oklahoma! – About the story
This was the first musical collaboration by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II – it’s based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. The setting is the Oklahoma Territory; it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams – and adds a secondary romance between cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie, who is a friend of Laurey’s.

The original Broadway production opened on March 31, 1943, and ran for 2,212 performances. Critics say it remains popular because it’s a musical play in which the songs and dances are fully integrated into a well-made story.

The set for this production of Oklahoma! conveys the images of hills, the dust bowl, and the town – all by changing the lighting and set elements.

Here are four of the behind-the-scenes theater technicians, sophomore and stage director Kevin Fleming, junior and fly system operator Cameron Lenocker, set designer and theater manager Mark Taylor, and sophomore and stage manager Jora Beck. It’s obvious they all are happy to see the show progressing well.

Professional staging adds much to the show
This production – with a cast of 55 and with 30 more students in the orchestra pit, all supported by a couple dozen stage technicians – looks to be the sort of entertaining, high-quality theatrical production for which the school has become well-known.

“I started talking with technical stagecraft instructor, and theater manager Mark Taylor, last May,” LeCoq told us. “He started giving me ideas about the staging. I just fell in love with his ideas, and kept pushing him to go little further. He came up with a wonderful, nontraditional Oklahoma! set. It’s fairly simple – but it is beautiful!”

Show opens December 2
Because these tickets tend to sell out fast, act now to see this, the school’s third production of Oklahoma!

The curtain goes up for evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on December 2, 3 and 4 – and, again, on and December 9, 10 and 11.

Or, you may want to attend the Family Matinee on December 5 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are still just $10 for adults; $7 for students and seniors. The Box Office at the theater is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (on school days) from 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Or, call (503) 261-8270.

DDHS senior Terran Jorgensen (playing Aunt Eller) and sophomore London Bauman-Loughran (Ali Hakim) work on a scene.

Past cast members invited on December 9
The DDHS Theater Department is putting out a special invitation to the cast and crew members who were in the 1981 and 1996 productions of the same show, to join them on December 9 for a special celebration.

“After the show, join your former cast and crew members on stage for a current picture to compare to pictures from 1981 and 1996,” LeCoq noted.  The Theater Department will provide original cast photos to every 1981 and 1996 cast member that attends.”

The Horner Center Performing Arts Center is located at 1400 SE 130th Avenue (between SE Stark & Division Streets).

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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