One of the most popular and enduring musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, will be presented in Creston from March 22-24, 2018, and Footlighters Theatre Society is holding auditions to find its cast at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.
“Oklahoma represented a significant change in the way musicals were developed and structured — and it influenced most, if not every, musical that followed,” says director Brian Lawrence. “And with next year being its 75th anniversary, we thought it was only fitting to honour that milestone.”
Oklahoma was the first collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist-librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, who both had successful prior careers with other collaborators before teaming up for the 1943 production, which ran for 2,212 performances. It features such well-known songs as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, “People Will Say We’re in Love” and, of course, the title song.
The musical, which earned a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944, is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.
Lawrence — who previously directed the musicals South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Annie and Beauty and the Beast — music director Leah Darby and choreographer Kate Webb will lead the auditions, seeking an ensemble of up to 10 men and 10 women, as well as nine principal characters:
•Curly McLain: A cowboy in love with Laurey;
•Laurey Williams: Aunt Eller’s niece, an independent young woman;
•Jud Fry: A hired hand on Aunt Eller’s ranch, a mysterious and dangerous loner;
•Aunt Eller: Laurey’s aunt, a respected community leader;
•Ado Annie: A flirtatious, gullible young woman;
•Andrew Carnes: Ado Annie’s father, eager to have her marry;
•Will Parker: A simple young man in love with Ado Annie;
•Ali Hakim: A peddler, enamored of Ado Annie; and,
•Gertie Cummings: A local farm girl, fond of Curly.
Auditions are open to performers 13 and older, and will include cold readings from the script, singing a portion of one of Oklahoma’s songs and learning a short dance combination.
“This show has many great opportunities for performers who love singing, dancing or both,” says Lawrence. “I’m always amazed that, after 75 years, Oklahoma feels as fresh and exciting as ever.”