(Photo above: (L-R) David Purkey, McKinley Lawson, Bella Morton, Gracie Conant & Jarod Gatley, courtesy of BEAT Children’s Theare)
When you combine rivalry between local farmers and cowboys, young love, farm life and romance all around, you are bound to end up with a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Set in Western Indian Territory just after the turn of the century, you find that the journey love takes can be as bumpy as a Surrey ride down a country road. Will the handsome cowboy and the charming farm girl find true love and live happily ever after in a brand new state called Oklahoma? On May 4 at Summit High School, BEAT Children’s Theatre will debut their own production of Oklahoma! In it’s 75th anniversary year, Oklahoma! has continued to entertain audiences all over the world. From it’s opening on roadway on March 31, 1943, Oklahoma! set history making records in its run on Broadway and other tours. With some unforgettable characters such as Laurie, Curly, Ado Annie, Will Parker, and Jud, there are many favorites to cheer for.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! was a box office hit. This was the first collaboration of the amazingly talented duo Rodgers and Hammerstein with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. From unforgettable characters to captivating and memorable songs and music, it is an essential part of Broadway and theatre history. According to playwright and theatre writer, Thomas Hischak, “Not only is Oklahoma! the most important of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, it is also the single most influential work in the American musical theatre. . . It is the first fully integrated musical play and its blending of song, character, plot and even dance would serve as the model for Broadway shows for decades.”
Under the guidance of Director Angelina Anello-Dennee in her eighth show with BEAT Children’s Theatre, Assistant Director Sally Drutman, and Musical Director Trish Sewell, Oklahoma! is brought to life by the actors of BEAT Children’s Theatre. Angelina has taken this group of experienced teenage performers and challenged them to the highest of expectations in developing character, vocal and musical excellence and performance perfection to uphold the high standards set by the original creators of this classic musical.
Bree Beal, BEAT Children’s Theatre executive director, says of this production of Oklahoma!, “BEAT is so excited to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of this classic Broadway musical. Our amazing cast and crew are working hard to bring this beloved story to life.” That is definitely what you will get in this production of Oklahoma! by BEAT. With 62 actors joining together to sing and dance in the larger musical numbers, it is quite an amazing spectacle.
BEAT Children’s Theatre is also excited to have members from the Central Oregon Symphony play live for this production of Oklahoma! under the guidance of conductor, Michael Gesme. Audiences of all ages will fall in love with this timeless classic all over again. Songs like Oh What a Beautiful Mornin, The Surrey With the Fringe on Top, Kansas City, Cain’t Say No, and of course the show stopping musical number Oklahoma!, are sure to have you cheering, dancing, laughing and crying. With choreography by the Michelle Mejaski, set design by Gary Loddo (and built with help from BEAT’s Set Apprentices) and costumes by Betsy Overfelt, this production is sure to transport the audience to wheat fields, early Western living and farm life in this beautiful and heroic story told by an amazingly talented cast.