St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Oklahoma!By Cappies • Mar 14th, 2014 • Category: Cappies
As the overture ends and the lights slowly come up, the sound of a violin hangs over the audience. After a few bars, Billy Weber puts down the instrument and struts onstage, fully dressed in cowboy garb and belting “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” the famous opening to Oklahoma! So began St. Andrew Episcopal’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Rodger and Hammerstein’s first.
Oklahoma!‘s significance in musical theater canon is indisputable. It was one of the first “book musicals,” that told aspects of the story through song and dance. The show opened in 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances, and the 1955 film adaptation won an Academy Award. It remains a popular musical, and was revived in 2010 at Washington’s Arena Stage.
Oklahoma! takes place in 1906 Indian Territory, the soon-to-be-state of Oklahoma. It follows farm girl Laurey Williams (Amelia Heesen) as she is courted by cowboy Curly McLain (Billy Weber) and farmhand Jud Fry (Lionel Jackson). It also features Aunt Eller (Jordan Reilly), the maternal figure to all the characters, Will Parker (Cameron Mitchell), a spendthrift sweetheart of a cowboy, and his girl Ado Annie (Tiffanie Snyder), a hormone-riddled teenaged girl who flits from one man to the next.
St. Andrew’s boasted a well-rounded cast, with Weber and Heesen standing out as vocal leads. Weber created an amiable and likeable Curly from his first few moments onstage, and Heesen balanced him out by showing the evolution of Curly and Laurey’s relationship through her initial standoffishness and eventual chemistry. Reilly and Micheal McMillen (as Ali Hakim, a peddler) kept energy levels high with their comedic delivery and physicality, and Micheal McShane as Ike Skidmore and Brian Bries as Andrew Carnes drew big laughs despite limited stage time.
While there were some issues with sound mixing and with harmonies, Weber and Jackson’s performance of “Pore Jud is Daid” was powerful and evocative, and the most moving number of the show. St. Andrew’s student orchestra, who played in costume and were occasionally integrated into the show, did a good job with a difficult score. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s production embodied the hopeful spirit of the show, with beautiful lighting and set design, strong characterizations, and powerful voices.
by Eva Monroe of Woodrow Wilson High School
Photos by Bruce Weber
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