SCERA’s national award-winning high school company Acting UP to present Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”

      (Orem, Utah) — When the Broadway stage introduced an exuberant rendition of the song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” during the opening moments of “Oklahoma!,” audiences saw a new form of musical theater unfolding. As the first musical to fully integrate songs and dances into a well-made story, it forever changed the structure of musical theater.

            A smash hit then – winning multiple awards and a special Pulitzer Prize for composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein – it remains an audience favorite across the world.  

            SCERA Center for the Arts is betting it will be an audience favorite in Orem as well when it presents “Oklahoma!” March 17-31 at 7:30 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in its 450-seat Showhouse.

            Reserved-seat tickets at $8 for adults and $6 for children age 3-11 and seniors 65 and older are available at scera.org, by calling 801-225-ARTS, in person at the SCERA main office (745 S. State St., Orem) weekdays from 10am-6pm and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm.  

            “Rodgers and Hammerstein were masters at pushing the edge of relevant issues,” says Kathryn Laycock Little, director and music director. “With ‘Oklahoma!’ the most universal theme is the importance of honesty in relationships. With leads Curly and Laurey, we are involved in a power struggle where they have to change, grow and overcome their pride, and realize their love is more important than stupid games.  That issue is still relevant today.  But on the lighter side, those stupid games make for an entertaining plot, and lead to our happily ever after!”

            She also likes the portrayal of women as strong, independent, and even sassy, which, in many ways, makes them modern women.

            Little is especially pleased with “Brodee Ripple’s extraordinary choreography, the visually stunning lighting to augment Shawn Mortensen’s set, and a talented, high-energy cast.”

            The story unfolds in turn-of-the-twentieth century Oklahoma where an active rivalry exists between area farmers and cowboys. This tension provides the backdrop for a tale about headstrong lovers who must maneuver through the complicated and bumpy ride that leads to true love.

And speaking of bumpy rides, SCERA Technical Director Sarah Thornton has procured an authentic period “surrey with fringe on top” from Burch and Sons carriage company in American Fork.

            When the play was later made into a film, few were surprised when “Oklahoma!” won three Academy Awards related to sound and music. The musical is filled with memorable classics such as “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “I Cain’t Say No” and the signature hit, “Oklahoma!”

Along with a cast of 40, leads roles are Austin Bigelow as handsome cowboy Curly, Kimberly Stevenson is fetching and feisty farm girl Laurey, Emily Kirkham is the girl with “two fellers” Ado Annie, Matthew Thompson is brawny but brainless Will Parker, Zac Thorn is persistent Persian peddler Ali Hakim, Sarah Smith is Aunt Eller and Andrew Pingry is the antagonist, Jud Fry.

            Assisting Little are Crysta Powell, stage manager, Shawn Mortensen, set designer, Brodee Ripple, costume designer, Elizabeth Griffiths, lighting designer, Kendall Bowman, audio engineer and Christy Norton, props designer.

Acting Up is a group of 40 talented teens in Grades 10-12, who audition to be in the group, and give up sleeping in almost every Saturday morning, coming to rehearse at 7:30am and on many nights. Just last month, Acting Up traveled to Fullerton, California where they competed in the advanced division of the Musical Theatre Competitions of America.  They won 1st place for a musical revue of Alan Menken songs and 2nd place for an ensemble piece from the musical “Rags,” competing against other top high school teams from across the country.  17 trophies were also awarded to individual members of Acting Up for outstanding solo and duet performances.

            “’Oklahoma!” is shaping up to be an excellent family production,” says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA’s President and CEO. “We’ve got the talented Kathryn Laycock Little at the helm who plunged into rehearsals as soon as she returned home from their successful competition tour.  I think audiences won’t even realize these are high school kids, they are that good.”   

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Contact: SCERA, (801) 225-ARTS, April Berlin (x. 1011) or Adam Robertson (x. 1014)

For release/feature

 

 

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