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The Dalton High School Players are busy putting the finishing touches on their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!"
DHS Drama Director Wes Phinney tells his students, "Without 'Oklahoma!' there is no 'Hamilton.'" Phinney explained that "Oklahoma!" was a watershed event in the history of musical theatre. "It was the first fully integrated musical in which music, lyrics, dialogue and dance worked together seamlessly to tell the story," he said. "A completely American contribution to the arts and to world culture."
The story is a simple one: a young brash cowboy by the name of Curly McClain (Will Martin) has his heart set on Laurey Williams (Bethany Southerland), a young orphaned girl who lives with her Aunt Eller (Sadie Hoy) on a farm in the territory soon to join the Union as the state of Oklahoma. Standing in the way of this "boy gets girl" story is Jud Fry (Rowdy Zeisig), the dark, brooding farmhand who also has his sights set on Laurey. A more comical subplot to the story is the "on-again off-again" romance of local cowboy Will Parker (Cole Cooper) and Ado Annie Carnes (Anna Grace Rogers). When Will leaves for a steer roping contest in Kansas City, Ado Annie "takes up" with a traveling salesman from Persia named Ali Hakim (Cristian Vergara), who has no plans to settle down until Annie's father, Andrew Carnes (Cash Robinson) convinces him otherwise. After much maneuvering, Hakim unites Will and Annie in order to save himself from the altar. But the road to happiness is not so easy for Curly and Laurey, who have to deal with a jealous angry Jud before they can find their happy ending.
Helping both stories along are characters like Gertie Cummings (Valerie Gonzalez), a local girl with a memorable laugh who has her eye on Curly, Ike Skidmore (Keenan Pasqua), the owner of the local ranch that plays host to the "Box Social" where the menfolk bid on baskets of food prepared by their sweethearts in order to raise money for the building of a schoolhouse, and Cord Elam, a local cowboy who, like other cowboys, holds a grudge against local farmers, a grudge that results in a fight breaking out between cowboys and farmers at the Box Social.
Also helping this story along is the beloved and iconic music and lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein, including standards such "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'," "I Cain't Say No," "People Will Say We're In Love," and the rousing title song. Also enhancing the storytelling is the dancing, which blends seamlessly with the songs and the narrative, the best example being the "Dream Ballet."
"'The "Dream Ballet' was an idea introduced by Choreographer Agnes de Mille," said Phinney. "It occurs at the end of the first act, when Laurey takes a whiff of smelling salts that Hakim has sold her and drifts off to sleep, dreaming of her true love, which the ballet reveals to the audience."
The DHS Players have teamed with the Creative Arts Guild's Ballet Dalton Dance Company to stage the iconic ballet for their production. CAG Dance Instructors Jessie Fincher and Paige Retchko choreographed the ballet, which features members of Ballet Dalton, including Abby Crossen dancing the role of "Dream Laurey."
Also featured in the DHS production of "Oklahoma!" are Emily Adcock, Jackie Arana, Canada Hope Awad, Matias Barcelo, Georgia Bronson, Bianca Camacho, Stacia Dawson, Jaysia Dillon, Hillary Dong, Jose Enriquez, Madison Esters, Dorna Ghane, Abby Gleaton, Jessica Gonzalez, Karina Gonzalez, Silvey Gregg, Joshua Grimes, Maddie Hagberg, Jack Haley, Autumn Harless, Haley Harless, Emily Harper, Morgan Hurlock, Jessica Jaconetti, Sarah Jaconetti, Garrett Jones, Priya Khote, Miah Lee, Elle Lyles, Sarah Lynch, Henry McClurken, Victoria Magana, Reyd Mahan, Lee Martin, Rafael Molina, Raymundo Moncayo, Catherine Nguyen, Frankie Perez, Lily Rehberg, Meredith Richard, Megan Robertson, Austin Rogers, Josue Salaices, Katie Mae Sponberger, Jewel Tamayo, Taylor Triplett, and Sarah Wakeman.
The DHS 2018 Spring Musical production of "Oklahoma!" will be presented Thursday-Saturday, April 12-14 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at the DHS Theater.Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for students and seniors, and will be available at the door.