SMC opens student production Thursday
Published 11:11 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Like the turn-of-the-century Southwesterners they are portraying on-stage, the student cast of Southwestern Michigan College’s upcoming production of “Oklahoma!” has become used to a long, hard day’s work.
In fact, the 34-member cast has spent more than a week rehearsing 12 or more hours a day to prepare for the opening curtain Thursday night, said Director Paul Mow.
Despite the long and arduous days, the group of area high school students, ranging from local districts like Dowagiac and Niles to those in St. Joseph and Paw Paw, has begun to gel with one another, the director said.
“They’re loving the new relationships they are making,” Mow said.
The students will take the stage of the college’s Dale A. Lyons Building theater at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, with repeat performances the same time on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets for the show cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for people 18 years old or younger; SMC students with ID receive free admission.
The first musical written by famed Broadway composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, “Oklahoma!” takes place in the titular frontier territory back in 1906. The play tells the story of the turbulent courtship between cowboy Curly McLain and farm girl Laurey Williams, whose romance blossoms while the territory undergoes the transformation into an official state of the U.S.
“It’s a classic piece of Americana,” Mow said.
Unlike many of the college’s theatrical productions, the cast of the upcoming musical is comprised of area high school students. Of the 200 students who auditioned for the production, only 75 were called back for the show, with only 34 remaining for the final cast.
“It’s kind of like an all-star team of theater students,” Mow said.
For the first time, most of the students have spent the week in residency at the college, spending their nights staying at the school’s dormitory facilities, Mow said.
Many of the members comprising the show’s orchestra pit are also high school students. Assisting with the production are two of Mow’s former students, Assistant Director Dan Maxon and Choreographer Patrick Ross.
With roaring, bombastic music and dance numbers, and fun and dynamic characters, the students’ rendition of “Oklahoma!” will have tons to offer for audiences this weekend, Mow said.
“It’s got some timeless love stories, and some timeless Rodgers and Hammerstein pieces,” he said.
Tickets for the shows may be purchased at the door or online at swmich.edu/boxoffice.