The curtain is calling


Photo by Holland Rainwater

Senior Colton Johnson and freshman Cate Rounds sing together during “Oklahoma” practice. The show will open tomorrow, and stay open through the weekend.

Story by Colton Johnson, editor in chief

Aunt Eller’s little yellow house is built, ready to welcome all who come in its presence, the sun is ready to rise and paint the sky with soft orange light and Curly McLain is waiting patiently to sing about what a beautiful morning it is in the territory. Waiting for the curtain to open. Waiting for an audience to receive the story.

The Tiger Theater Company has been preparing for months to bring to life the great plains of Oklahoma this weekend Jan. 12 and 13 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. in their production of “Oklahoma!.” Tickets are already being pre-ordered and are going fast as the audiences are eager to watch the well renowned company put on such a legendary show.  

“Rehearsals are going really well for rehearsals. That’s why we do these. They’re long and they’re grueling, but the show is coming together so beautifully, and I am so excited,” Director Melissa Newton said. “Everybody needs to come just to hear the singing if nothing else. The dancing is great. The acting is great.”

The company is currently in “hell week” of rehearsals which is where the masterpiece of the show is all brought together. While they have rehearsed since October for the show, developing characters, songs, relationships and dance scenes, the late night rehearsals of “hell week” allow for loose ends to be tightened, scenes to be changed with ease and characters to learn how to interact with the ensemble and set effectively.  

When everyone comes together, it’s this feeling you can’t get in anything else. It makes you want to do theatre. It’s just pure inspiration and unity.”

— Emma Daniel

“It’s been kind of stressful trying to learn to put everything together with the different characters and personalities, but I think the more we work the better it will come together,” sophomore Emma Daniel said. “When everyone comes together, it’s this feeling you can’t get in anything else. It makes you want to do theatre. It’s just pure inspiration and unity.”

There certainly is a sense of magic almost when the actors are on stage and all the technical aspects are added along with the costumes.

“Of course we’re all stressed out, but that’s normal. I think it’s going to be a great show,” freshman Cate Rounds said. “Whenever you’re just in dance rehearsals it’s just dancing, whenever it’s just the leads it’s just them in their own individual scenes. When it all comes together it’s like oh my gosh this is an actual show.”

Actors, tech and the costume crew alike have devoted countless hours to this production and are continuing to add final details to each aspect of the show. The amount of effort put into even the minor details of the show are often times overlooked.

“We have had piles of fabric all over the floor and the room. Thread and sewing needles everywhere. Pins scattered around, ironing boards constantly in use and ribbon strewn around the entire theater honestly,” sophomore Addison Cross said. “Robin Townsend is really great. She’s done a lot for this company and this show. She’s been dying costumes, sewing bows and adding trim to dresses in order to make everything look time period.”

In this show, acting, singing and dancing aren’t the only things that have had to be rehearsed. For a few of the characters, they had to practice kissing scenes in order to show a moment of passion on the stage.

“There’s a kissing scene between one of the other characters and me and I didn’t want everyone to see just yet,” Rounds said. “I sent everyone out of the room, and after it happened, I turned around and saw Paisley Allen standing right at the door with a big smile on her face just laughing. I stopped real quick.”

Throughout the rehearsal process, relationships are formed and friendships are made and in the musicals especially, there are people who may not be “theater people” joining the show to experience the excitement of playing a part on stage.

“The rehearsals are a lot different than drill team rehearsals. There’s a lot more time to just sit and watch the show come together. It’s really cool to see,” senior Parker Madlock said. “I have to find man jeans because I play a little cowboy in one scene and Sarah Stark, Emily McMaster and me all tap dance in our costumes during Will Parker’s Kansas City song. In one of the rehearsals we completely forgot what we were supposed to do, and it kind of screwed up everyone else.”

During rehearsals, not everything always goes as planned as the unexpected is commonplace.

“Yesterday I was at practice and it was during the big finale song, Oklahoma, and I was running to my place, and out of nowhere I got hit in the head with a bouquet of flowers,” sophomore Alex Cope said. “Then I ended up getting elbowed in the face.”

It is during the rehearsal process that everyone can see what they are doing right, but more importantly, what they are doing wrong so it can be fixed and adjusted to make sure it doesn’t happen again. With these mistakes fixed, the show can go on successfully and bring beautiful moments and scenes to the stage.

I am excited for the adrenaline of opening night. It feels like your heart is going to come out of your chest, but it’s a good feeling.”

— Hannah Spencer

“Rehearsals have been pretty good except for almost diving straight into the wooden tractor. We were running off stage and I tripped over someone’s leg and landed on all fours right in front of it,” freshman Anabeth Icenhower said. “Watching it all come together with the costumes is really cool. All of the dresses are really pretty and the boys all look good in their cowboy and farmer outfits.”

“Oklahoma!” is a family friendly production filled with laughs, high energy dance scenes and beautiful duets, solos and chorus songs. The show is widely anticipated for its 75th anniversary.

“The Friday night show is going to be really exciting because the energy is high,” Daniel said. “But the other shows will be just as great because we will be more comfortable performing in front of audiences.”

When the curtain opens and Curly McLain, played by senior Brennon Cope, starts singing, the audience will be taken into the wide open territory of Oklahoma, and the actors backstage will be radiating quiet anticipation, linking pinkies and passing on a whisper to “break a leg.” It is in this moment that everything they have been working for will come to fruition.

“It’s like a big family, and everyone is really welcoming as soon as you walk in the door,” freshman Hannah Spencer said. “I am excited for the adrenaline of opening night. It feels like your heart is going to come out of your chest, but it’s a good feeling.”