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OKLAHOMA Migrates To Manitoba !
Garden Valley Collegate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Crystal, (Grade 12)

"Shet your face or I'll fill yer behind so full of buckshot you'll be walkin' around like a duck the rest o' your life," was among the myriad lines resounding through the auditorium of Winkler's Garden Valley Collegiate as the cast and chorus brought the Broadway musical 'Oklahoma!' to Manitoba.

The curtain went up November seventh at 7:30 with successive performances the following two nights. Director Gary Hornung acknowledged "They [the actors and actresses] take risks and that is the outstanding feature of any cast, is it's willingness to take or not to take a risk. They have to grow . . . the ability to grow and, like I said, risk or trust one another - that's what the show is all about."

Supported by a 40-member Chorus of students in grades nine through twelve and complete with a live orchestra, the show brought in a cumulative audience of over 1300 people. Approximately 150 students were involved in the show as either cast, chorus or members of the production team. Twenty-five devoted staff were involved with the show - some of whom put as many as 340 hours into 'Oklahoma!' Hornung recalls "Anything after the last week in October until show time . . . I was working on four or five hours of sleep a night. The demand is very sincerely there." Several cast and chorus members shared the declaration of actor Nathan D. who said, "It's awful long until your on stage and then it becomes worthwhile."

Although a musical is brought to life at GVC approximately every two years, Hornung noted 'Oklahoma!' "is the biggest show we've done . . . from the point of view of a name show, from the point of view of the size of the special effects - it's big!"

Rodger's and Hammerstein's beloved musical presents the shy and lovely Laurey Williams, residing on her Aunt Eller's farm in Oklahoma just after the turn of the century. Romance is brought to the play as Laurey is faced with two suitors who vie for her affection: Jud Fry, the sinister, obsessed, hired hand; and Curly McLean, the persistent man with an undying love for Laurey. Ado Annie, the girl who "Just Cain't Say No!", her suitor Will Parker and the slimy, sneaky, devious womanizer and peddler, Ali Hakim, adorn the musical with comedy. Throughout the musical, the theme of love prevails until the individuals destined to be together are united at last. A final encore of the number 'Oklahoma!' brings the show to a close and the audience to their feet in a standing ovation.

Jodi B. and John P. debuted in the musical's leading roles as Laurey Williams and Curly McLean. Portraying subsequent leading roles were Melissa F. as Aunt Eller Murphy, Joel Z. as Jud Fry, Heather L. as Ado Annie Carnes, Justin Z. as Will Parker and Nathan D. as Ali Hakim.

For the cast, there were many highlights to being a part of 'Oklahoma!'. Actor Joel Z. noted the highlights ranged from "just acting, to the great music, to building friendships as you work with people." Chorus member Ang K. fondly recalls the rehearsal bloopers and not being able to "sing properly because we were all smiling so much!" during the standing ovation.

Undoubtedly, a show like this doesn't come together without much time and intense effort. Joel Z. noted "There was a lot of commitment required, especially in the last couple of weeks, when we spent upwards of 12 hours a day at school, practicing . . . People had to basically put the rest of their lives on hold to make the show fly - and we had a lot of fun doing it, too." Hornung remarked, "To look at this cast - the people grow into their roles. Anybody can memorize words but the job of the actor is to convince the audience . . .", something the 'Oklahoma!' cast was fully capable of. Through the production, participants provided an accurate reflection of GVC's motto "Reaching for the stars" as they devoted their time, effort and talent to bring 'Oklahoma!' to Manitoba.

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