By Meghan McCormick
Transcript Staff Writer
Norman High School Choral Director Brenda Webb and student actors believed it was only fitting to perform Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s award-winning musical “Oklahoma!” in the same year, the state celebrates its 100th birthday.
Norman High School’s fall production of “Oklahoma!” will debut Friday evening at the Nancy O’Brien Center for the Performing Arts, 1809 Stubbeman Ave. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 28.
Webb serves as the stage director for the musical that arrived on Broadway in 1943. She said about 100 students are participating in the production.
The play has been named an official centennial event, she said.
“We have been selected by the Oklahoma Centennial Commission as an Oklahoma centennial event,” Webb said. “You can find us on the centennial event calendar under the October listings.”
“Oklahoma!” is set in Indian Territory in early 1907, just before the land achieved statehood.
Webb said NHS junior Sarah Colijn plays the lead role of Laurey Williams, a young girl who is caught in a love triangle between cowboy Curly McLain, portrayed by senior Sam Boeck, and farmhand Jud Fry, senior Jonathan Phillips, 17.
Boeck, 17, described his character as an arrogant cowboy who is determined to win Laurey’s affection. He said Laurey is a bit of a challenge. She doesn’t succumb to his charm easily.
The actor said the musical has given him a chance to portray a role he’s dreamed of playing.
“I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy,” Boeck said.
Laurey’s Aunt Eller, played by senior Katie Gardner, serves as the show’s matriarch who knows everybody’s business.
“She holds it all together,” Webb said.
The stage director said the play also introduces another young lady Ado Annie, freshman Grace Marcum, and her boyfriend Will Parker, a traveling rodeo cowboy played by junior Micah Smith, 16. The cowboy will not be allowed to marry his beloved unless he can produce $50.
Marcum, 15, made school history when she was cast in the musical.
“It’s the first time a freshman has ever been put in a lead role,” Webb said.
Marcum who has performed with Sooner Theatre’s Camp Broadway was taken aback when she was chosen for the leading spot in the musical.
“I was surprised to be picked,” she said.
Cast members said auditions for the play were held in August and rehearsals began in early September. Rehearsals moved to the performing arts center about a week ago.
Gardner, 16, said the show has required rehearsal sessions that begin in late afternoon and stretch to about 11 p.m. each night.
“It’s been a whole lot of work, but it is worth it in the end,” she said.
Colijn, 17, said she likes the early 20th century style wardrobe worn by her character.
“The costumes are fantastic,” she said. “They’re so eye-catching.”
Colijn said after the Saturday evening performance, the actors and production staff will host an old fashioned box social. The female actors in the musical will bake pies and bring them in decorated boxes. They will be auctioned off at the end of the production that evening.
By Meghan McCormick