Thomas A. Edison High School
Ooooooooooooooooh- what a grand show! Rodgers and Hammerstein's "OKLAHOMA!" performed by St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School came sweeping down the plains with high energy and notes that smelled sweeter than honey.
It was no wonder why the show was considered revolutionary when it first arrived on Broadway in 1943. The musical "Rodgers and Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA!" tells the story of two love triangles happening in the same small town in Oklahoma. Coupled with cowboys, fight scenes, and ballet, the musical spins an intriguing tale only rivaled by the speed of the cowboys' lassos.
St. John Paul the Great High School took to the show with both hands on the reigns. Jackson Berg, who played the lovesick cowboy Curly, had a compelling voice as he stubbornly strived for what he wanted, often subtly throwing jokes around when he wasn't engaged in stage combat. Audrey Iglesia, who played Curly's interest Laurey, was beautiful in both voice and costume, but fiery when she needed to be. Her emotions were displayed like a rollercoaster - from laughing, to crying, to being in love - she did it all with a tall posture and a large smile.
Nicholas Ramer, who played Will, was constantly flinging himself all over the stage, using lassos and twirling guns to add a layer of comedic relief while chasing after Ado Annie. Ado Annie's loud, wide-eyed personality was portrayed with bright confidence by Lindsay Scarola. While speaking in a flawless Oklahoman accent, she hysterically demonstrated the conflict of being unable to decide between two male love interests. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the frustrated peddler Ali Hakim, played by Andrew Parker, very clearly expressed his want for getting out of the love triangle with perfectly timed quips and his chin held high in defiance. Alec Ramer loomed over them all as Jud, giving the audience chills with his voice and ominous character choices.
The obvious element that stole the show was choreography. Each scene had layers of song and dance overlapping, whether it was ballet, lasso tricks, or fight choreography. The team was incredibly expressive with their movements, and it was evident that the dances were drilled repeatedly until perfect. A sequence referred to as "The Dream Ballet" was a fifteen-minute dance (524 measures of music) incorporating classical ballet, Fosse, and stage combat that told the story of Laurey's fears. All of it was choreographed by senior Alice Reid who also demonstrated her amazing ballet skills as Dream Laurey.
Costumes had undoubtedly been a priority for the cast and crew, starting in the summer before the production to perfect over 80 costume pieces. The department, headed by Lauren Mignatti and Mercedes Martinez, ensured every cowboy was fitted with shirts, hats, chaps, and a holster, while every girl was in a flowy skirt or dress of varying colors. There were several quick costume changes throughout dance numbers, changing from ballerina attire to sparkly dresses in forty seconds. Each cast member had multiple outfits that were tailored to their character persona flawlessly.
Overall, St. John Paul the Great High School's "Rodgers and Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA!" was more than just "OK". The show was evidence that Oklahoma is indeed a grand state and a far grander musical.
Gainesville High School
It's a scandal! It's an outrage that more people haven't seen "Rodger and Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA!" at St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School!
"OKLAHOMA!," the first musical written by the iconic duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, is a musical based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs". Both the play and the musical follow Curly McLain, a cowboy hopelessly in love with the fiercely independent Laurey Williams as their relationship develops. Curly and Laurey start out as adversaries, never speaking directly to each other unless it's a quick-witted jab, but after seeing that she could lose Curly, Laurey starts to admit her feelings and they start to truly fall in love.
Jackson Berg (Curly McLain) was incredible. From the moment Berg stepped out from the back of the auditorium ("Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'") the audience felt as if they'd been transported to a lazy summer morning. Jackson brought so much warmth to the stage, smiling at everyone who walked by, swaying as he sang, and looking absolutely content. Berg's chemistry with fellow lead Audrey Iglesia (Laurey Williams) was felt throughout the auditorium. Jackson's expression always softened when Audrey was on stage. As Curly was spinning a tale of a beautiful wagon ("The Surrey With the Fringe on Top") Berg's eyes always returned to Iglesia's and it took a second for Berg's eyes to move back.
Nicholas Ramer as Will Parker was a delight. The way Ramer galloped on stage had the entire audience laughing and giggling. Ramer's "Kansas City" perfectly captured the exciting fish-out-of-water experience of seeing a modern, more advanced world. Nicholas masterfully carried the B-plot of the show, running around trying to obtain fifty dollars cash so that he could marry the girl he loves. Using the text to his advantage, Ramer spoke in a fast-paced manner that gave his character a sense of urgency that could be felt by everyone on and off stage.
The Dream Ballet was an amazing blend of technical elements and acting. The fifteen-minute ballet was choreographed by Alice Reid. Reid's choreography told a wonderful tale of Laurey's biggest dreams and worst fears. The ballet started out soft and dream-like with Alice Reid and Jaidan Chuquillangui (Dream Laurey and Dream Curly) dancing together accompanied by four featured dancers (Emma McShea, Magdalene Moore, Emmarose Ramer, Aileen Randall). The dream soon became a nightmare as David Evans (Dream Jud) entered and killed Dream Curly.
The lighting design by Peter Escamilla, Jacob Garrison, and Dominic Brunsman moved the story along with subtle changes during and in between scenes and signature colors for each of the principal characters. For example, Jud Fry's (Alec Ramer) color is red. That red light isn't revealed until we truly see who Jud is in "Lonely Room." The lighting team also did outstanding work with silhouettes. The best of this could be seen at the top of the show; as Curly entered a spotlight was placed on him and the silhouette of his head was cast on the wall in a golden light.
The audience at St. John Paul the Great couldn't say no to this phenomenal performance. Bravo!