SHS takes the stage with ‘Oklahoma!’
Last updated 2/15/2022 at Noon
The Sisters High School Choir Program is bringing the community of Sisters to “Oklahoma!”
Rick Johnson and his choir students are putting on their first full-scale, live-performance musical since their performances of “Freaky Friday” in 2019.
“Every other year we do a classic musical as a full-scale show and this year we finally decided to do ‘Oklahoma!’” said Johnson.
The choir director cast the show in September and they have been working on chorus music throughout the semester while the leads learn their lines. They are now putting the show together with blocking, choreography, and lines.
The group is performing the original Rodgers and Hammerstein version of the show, paying homage to the original play that came out back in 1943. It was the first musical written by the powerhouse duo.
“Oklahoma!” follows the characters of Curly, Laurey, Jud Fry, and Aunt Eller. According to the Rodgers and Hammerstein website, “The musical is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, ‘Green Grow the Lilacs.’ Set in farm country outside the town of Claremore, Indian Territory, in 1906, it tells the story of farm girl Laurey Williams and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly McLain and the sinister and frightening farmhand Jud Fry.”
The leads of the show include Ashton King as Curly, Sasha Stolasz as Laurey, Ted Stolasz as Will Parker, Briant Leaver as Jud Fry, Dylan Rundle as Aly Hakim, Rachel Lilly as Aunt Eller, Ryan Kissinger as Andrew Carnes, and Brynn Beaver as Ado Annie Carnes. Ashton King was not present, but the rest of the cast spoke with The Nugget on how the production has been coming along, especially considering a changed entertainment industry after the pandemic.
“It’s been really nice to get to know people in choir when working together this closely,” said Ryan Kissinger.
Brynn Beaver, who plays Ado Annie Carnes, had done theater before, but as a senior this is her first show since transferring to Sisters High School a couple of years ago.
“It’s really great to get back into theater and actually be able to do a full-scale show for my senior year,” she said. “Playing this character has really helped me get out of my comfort zone, and as an introverted person it helps me to be more out there and extroverted and play out to the audience more.”
Sasha Stolasz gets a sense of excitement from performing in theater. She had performed with the high school before and is in the jazz choir as well.
“Life can be boring, and theater is never boring, and I’ve always had an interest in doing it,” she said.
Stolasz is playing one of the lead female roles as Laurey. “I’ve found a lot of inspiration from Julie Andrews in ‘Sound of Music,’ just putting a southern accent to it,” she said.
Stolasz is also learning the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and listening to your director about how to do those tough scenes.
“I just do what my director says when it comes to romantic scenes. As a main character with a love interest, I was a little worried about that, but I have been trying to find the nuances of the character and understand her and how to react in certain moments,” she said.
Rachel Lilly, playing Aunt Eller, has really been understanding more of the balance that is needed to be able to be a lead in a full-scale show while balancing other things in life.
“Being a senior, a lot of us are in really hard classes and applying to colleges at the same time as being a lead in this very big show,” she said. “It is fun to find a time to dig into the character that we are given, especially with limited time given that we are doing this during the school year, not the summer.”
Dylan Rundle has enjoyed getting to view his role as a challenge, playing Hakim.
“I’ve enjoyed trying to become a scoundrel and I enjoy taking on the challenge of this character,” he said.
Rundle has been figuring out ways to interact with the audience to fool people and let them in on his scheme.
This is Ted Stolasz’s first full-scale show as a part of the Sisters High School choir. He plays Will Parker in the show.
“I thought it would be fun just to audition for it and try and do it,” he said.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and directors of the show have faced many challenges, but in the end, they believe these challenges will help them produce an even better show. There has not been a rehearsal since the start of the process where 100 percent of the cast has been present, due to some being out for one reason or another.
“It has really been a challenge of communication and having the people that are gone have to jump into rehearsal and blocking after not being there,” said Johnson.
“We’ve all really had to step up and communicate more with our castmates to be able to put the show together,” said Beaver.
Beaver described some of the challenges of acting on stage while having to wear a mask: “It really makes you aware of what scene you are in because we are having to use body movements and expression in the eyes to get the emotion across,” she said.
The actors have had to find other ways to express emotion and work together to form a cohesive scene without being able to use their entire face.
“We have come up with a clever way to do kissing scenes if we have to wear masks during performances,” said Johnson.
The cast and crew will not know until the lead up to opening night if they will have to wear masks while performing on stage or not.
“A lot is up in the air and uncertain right now, but we are just excited to be able to put on a show,” said Johnson.
“We’ve all gotten really close in facing these challenges as a cast and having to really communicate and keep each other informed of what’s being missed,” said Beaver.
Johnson says there is “no better show to bring to the community of Sisters, especially after so long.”
“It is a sort of love letter to the traditional Western show, and we are excited to be doing it,” said Sasha Stolasz.
The entire Sisters High School choir is involved in the show, as the rest of the choir are chorus members and contribute to the community present in the show.
The entire choir and crew will work in after-school rehearsals for the next week with full tech and lights and will be starting full dress rehearsals at the start of next week.
“Oklahoma!” will be a run of three evening shows starting on Thursday, February 24, at 7 p.m .; Friday, February 25, at 7 p.m .; Saturday, February 26, at 7 p.m .; and ending with a matinee show on Sunday, February 27, at 2 p.m. For more information visit https://sites.google.com/ssd6.org/oklahomatix.
Tickets are general admission so you will have to bring proof of purchase to the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students.