AHS set to stage classic musical

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Take a journey back to a simpler time. Picture life in the rural plains of the Oklahoma Territory at the turn of the twentieth century. Cattle folk. Farming folk. Singing and dancing.

Singing and dancing?

At least that's what Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein envisioned when they wrote and produced their Tony Award-winning musical Oklahoma! for the bright lights of Broadway.

The subsequent movie version went on to garner an Academy Award for Shirley Jones and her portrayal of Laurey Williams.

Revived on Broadway a few years back, the musical has remained a theater-favorite for more than 50 years. Now, Covington County's residents will get to see the classic brought to the stage when the Andalusia High School Musical Drama Department presents their rendition on Saturday, February 21 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, February 22 at 2 p.m.; and again on Monday, February 23 at 7 p.m. in the Andalusia High School Auditorium. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door, or from any choral student.

Under the direction of Paula Sue Duebelt, 75 students will bring to life the story of Curly, Laurey, Judd, Will, Ike and the other settlers in the Oklahoma Territory.

"This is the most ambitious production we've mounted in several years," Duebelt said. "I've got some talented kids though. It's going to be wonderful."

A fast-paced, musical comedy and love story, Oklahoma! relies heavily on timing and characterization.

Something the kids were working intensely on Monday night.

Under Duebelt's guidance, and the musical prowess of John Beasley and Angie Sasser; the students worked on putting the musical together for the first time and getting their timing right.

During Monday night's rehearsal, dancers worked out the kinks and timing in the big production number, while lead characters discovered how to better project their voice from the stage.

Still others learned just how crowded a stage can get with props and scenery added.

For some of the students, the production is their first foray into musical theater.

"This is the first one I've been in," said James Hugh Kyzar, a 16-year-old junior. "It's a lot of work, but it's been a lot of fun."

Kyzar, who's doublecast as Ike Skidmore and Will Parker, said he'd never seen the production prior to preparing for the big show.

"The first time I saw it was in class," Kyzar said. "We watched the movie, so I knew what to expect a little better."

That's the same way Elliot Dansby, another 16-year-old junior felt.

"Watching the movie was the first time I'd ever seen it," Dansby said. "I play Curly, the male lead, so it's been a lot of work, and the movie's helped."

Both Kyzar and Dansby have their favorite parts of the show. Just different parts.

"I like the Kansas City scene," Kyzar said. "It's a tap-dance sequence with the guys."

"I like seeing it all come together and I'll really like it when the curtain comes down after the first performance," Dansby said. "That will mean we've finished it for the first time. That's going to be the best part."