Jackson Heights to present "Oklahoma!"
This coming weekend, Jackson Heights will be “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,” as well as the place to see the musical that celebrates the “Sooner State” and served as the first collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II.
“Oklahoma!” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Jackson Heights High School. JHHS vocal music teacher Clarissa Berglund, who co-directed with JHHS instrumental music teacher Laura Holliday and serves as the show’s choreographer, said rehearsals for the musical are “going great.”
“The kids are making great progress, and I think it’s going to a pretty great show,” Berglund said of the musical.
“Oklahoma!” was chosen as this year’s fall musical in part because it hasn’t been presented on the JHHS stage for more than two decades, Berglund noted.
“We were trying to think of something that the school either hadn’t done before or hadn’t done in a really long time,” she said. “Laura said she had done ‘Oklahoma!’ in her first year of teaching here, back in 1991, but not since. Plus, it’s just a really fun musical. We thought it would be a really fun show to pull back out and do.”
JHHS student Lane Holliday, who plays Will Parker in this production, agreed.
“It’s going well,” Holliday said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s really starting to come together.”
Set near the turn of the 20th century, in the years before Oklahoma went from being a “territory” to a full-fledged state in 1907, the musical focuses on cowboy Curly McLain (Caleb Baker) and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams (Aidan Allen). There’s also some romantic goings-on between cowboy Will Parker and his fiancee, Ado Annie (Marley Wareham).
Complicating matters is the lonely, disturbed farm hand Jud Fry (Caleb Sullivan), who carries a torch for Laurey; the flirtatious Gertie Cummings (Raygan Fund), who tries to steal Curly away from Laurey; and the peddler Ali Hakim (Ethan Fund), who has eyes for Ado Annie.
Watching over it all is Laurey’s Aunt Eller (Emily Bowhay), a respected community leader; and Judge Carnes (Steven Marshall), Ado Annie’s father, eager to see his daughter married.
Also starring in the JHHS production are Will Patterson (Ike Skidmore), Xavier Fritz (Fred), Trey Binkley (Slim), Hannah Williams (Ellen), Grace Bowhay (Vivian), Chase Gigstad (Virginia), Jessica Blum (Kate), Braden Dohl (Cord Elam), Seth Holliday (Mike), Dalton Chartier (Joe) and Alexis Rieschick (Dream Laurey).
Westin Jacobsen, Jason Meggison and Colt Hamner play cowboys, and Katelyn Meggison, Haley Rogers, Abby Williams, Kate Lierz, Erika White, Hanna Davault, Bree Williams and Maggie Rostetter round out the cast. Logan Rethman serves as stage manager, with Jonathan Reiff as sound technician and Brady Holliday, Meg Eisermann, Logan Wells, Jordan Wells, Judd Nelson and Brianna Cattrell as stage crew. Sheri Bartel serves as piano accompanist.
The first musical written by the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Oklahoma!” is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, “Green Grow the Lilacs.” In addition to its title tune, the musical also features such well-known songs as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey With the Fringe On Top,” “All or Nothin’” and “People Will Say We’re In Love.”
The original Broadway production, which opened in 1943, ran for more than 2,200 performances, received a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944 and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1955. The musical has since enjoyed several award-winning revivals and national tours.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and will be available at the door. For more information, contact JHHS at 364-2195.
The Jackson Heights Post Prom committee will hold fund-raising activities in conjunction with the production, selling popcorn before the start of the Saturday performance and offer dessert and coffee prior to Sunday’s show, it was reported.