Adios from Oklahoma!

Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!  Oklahoma! closed Sunday in front of a sold out house.  It was a wonderful closing week and an AMAZING run.  Such great responses from every audience.  After the show, the cast, crew and orchestra stuck around to assist with striking the set, orchestra pit, props, and clean up the dressing and make-up rooms.  We had the set down in just over an hour or so.  After, we ended our day with Pizza provided by Lyric Arts!  Yum!  Some of us cowboys and farmers went clean-shaven after the run.  See pic below.

Oh, just in case you missed the show, or want to relive our big "Oklahoma!" number, listen in to our final vocal warm up.

Oklahoma! Final Vocal Warmup

Thank you for swinging by and reading about Lyric Arts production of Oklahoma!  Enjoy the rest of their 2011-2012 season, and please come back for an excellent 2012-2013 season!


My time in OK!

This is a bit winded, but please read- Well y’all, It’s the final weekend of Oklahoma!!  As we bring this show to a wrap, I would like to reflect on my time at Lyric Arts and the wonderful world of Oklahoma!

It has been an all-around wonderful experience being a part of Oklahoma!  Although I was able to make it to the first rehearsal/meet and greet, I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal, which included a lot of music and dance rehearsals.  Because of that, I started rehearsals a bit behind.  I wasn’t worried too much about the music, or my few lines, but I was worried about the dancing, as I am not a dancer.  So one of my first rehearsals for Kansas City, I was a bit overwhelmed.  Everyone pretty much had the dance down already, so I had to play catch up.  Part of the dance included doing bell kicks, which I have NEVER been able to do, so then I got a little more discouraged.  The rest of the dance wasn’t that bad, but yet, it was still overwhelming at first.  The good thing is, that Christian LaBissoniere (Will Parker), did all the moves before we did it, so that helped a bit.  One of our choreographers, Angie, told me if I really couldn’t figure out the dance, it was fine to wave my hand in the air and act like I couldn’t do it.  Deep down, that would have been the way to go me, but I was determined to figure this dance out.  Rehearsal and rehearsal, I was finally picking it up, except the bell kicks, but that I was able to fake pretty well.  The other big dance I was involved with, was for The Farmer in the Cowman.  Since I also missed the first big dance rehearsal for this, I did not have a partner, so Dan, our director, said I could hang out in the background for the big dance break during the song, I was okay with that.

Once we opened, that’s when the fun really began.  It was great seeing the entire ensemble come together to create such a wonderful show.  With each performance, we grew, although the show remained fairly consistent, it was just natural for us to grow in our roles.  For the big group scenes, we would play on each other’s adlibs and reactions to what was happening around us.  Some of the scenes that come to mind are; the boys reactions to Aunt Eller getting a hold of the Little Wonder, and trying to stop her from looking into it; the scene leading up to the Farmer and the Cowman; the auction scene, in particular, our reactions to Jud’s bidding and especially when Curly sells everything in order to beat each of Jud’s bids; the boys drunken laughter and play for Curly and Laurey’s shivery; and our reactions during Curly’s trial.

Highlights for me throughout the run:

The audience reaction to Aunt Eller looking at the Little Wonder and the boys trying to stop her; the response and laughter to Ali Hakim; Andrew Carnes treatment of Ali Hakim; wondering when and if the guns will work during the smokehouse scene between Jud and Curly; watching Laurey and Curly in the dream ballet on the backstage monitor; the kids ensemble with their big smiling faces during the dream ballet; the audience response and applause for the Farmer and the Cowman; Curly and Will’s dances moves in the Farmer and the Cowman, especially Will’s tip of the hat to Ado Annie; the audience excitement, reaction and applause during and at the end of Oklahoma! and the rush feeling of their reaction; the entrance of the Surrey at the end of the show.

Thoughts and personal growth:

In the show I have a few small solos, the bigger one happens during the Farmer and the Cowman scene, although it’s pretty short, it gave me a chance to showcase my voice, which felt good.  However, for most of the run, I got butterflies as the song lead into my solo.  Once the fight breaks out, I knew it was getting closer to my solo, and I would wonder what my words are, and whether or not my voice would work.  I’ve never had that feeling in my years of performing.  So that was a strange feeling, but good to have.

I felt that my dancing for Kansas City had improved and was up to the caliber of the rest of the ensemble, minus the bell kick, that is.  My growth in ensemble work, and background adlibs.

I have truly enjoyed my time in Oklahoma! and Lyric Arts.  Lyric Arts has been a great place to learn and grow in all aspects of theatre, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.  I hope to return for future productions, and be able to grow more.

Yours truly,

Rick A. McAllister (Ike Skidmore)



Oklahoma - Here we go again...

Once again, the cast of Oklahoma! took the stage last night to start off another weekend of performances.  I felt, personally, that this was our best Thursday night performance of the run, at least, I was very happy with my performance.  It's hard to get back at it after having a few days away.  While most of us were back working at our jobs, and/or school, Aunt Eller (Alana LaBissoniere) and Will Parker (Christian LaBissoniere) began rehearsals for their next production, "My Fair Lady" at BCT.  They both seemed to ease back into their roles without any problems. Last weekend, a few of us were struggling vocally and physically.  Because of this, some solo parts and lines were swapped around to accommodate a fatigued cast members.  Other cast members, Renae Lewis, in particular, stepped up to the plate to help out with "Out of my Dreams".  It was great to be back in full spirits for this weekend.

This Thursday night was pretty special for me.  I knew that my uncle and aunt were seeing the show, but they surprised me by bringing another one of my aunts that lives far away, to see the show.  To top my night off, I was approached after the show by a mom holding her 3-4 year son, saying that I was her sons favorite cowboy.  She even confirmed it earlier back asking him if he meant Will, and he said, no, the other cowboy in a red shirt.  I gave the little cowpoke a high five!


By the way, check out our production photo/video montage by Managing Director, Laura Tahja Johnson:

Oklahoma - 9 out of 23 complete!

Well howdy; we’re back at it again.  Last night we headed back to Oklahoma to start our third weekend of performances.  We had a smaller audience, but they all seem to enjoy the show.  Before the show, we sang Oklahoma as our usual part of vocal warm ups, but Kristin, our Music Director, didn’t think we put enough energy in it, so we sang through it again, with ENERGY. Tonight’s performance will be our 10th performance, leaving 13 more to go over the next few weekends.  When it is all said and done, we will have had 23 public performances.  That will be the most performances I have acted in since my time with Youth Performance Company and Child’s Play (Stages) Theatre Company in the early 1990’s.  The most performances I have performed in were 72 when I was an extra (essential) in Candide at the Guthrie Theater in 1990.

Most community theatres in and around the Twin Cities usually have a two weekend run, normally 5 – 7 performances.  So our run is just over two times more than a normal community run.  Some of the reasons we have a longer run is that Lyric Arts house is smaller and more intimate than other theatres, but it also give more patrons as chance to come out to see a production, as they will have additional opportunities to work it in their schedule.  One of my reasons that I wanted to be in this production at Lyric, other than the title, was because of the run length.  It makes all the hard work of rehearsal so much more worth it since will last more than two weekends.

Some of the challenges of performing the same show for so many performances are staying physically and vocally prepared, while you are also working and/or going to school.  Other challenges are doing your best to keep the show consistent for each audience, but yet, keep every performance fresh, not only for them, but also for our sake too.  My biggest struggle is trying to save my voice, but it has been difficult to do as I use talk all day at my job to 20+ preschoolers every day, while reading, singing and teaching.  Being that I am an ensemble member, I don’t have many lines and only sing a few songs, but the leads are working very hard out there, and trying to keep their show/character consistent.

In my eleven seasons working backstage at The Children’s Theatre Company, I have worked on several long performance runs, the longest was with last springs “Annie” which had 95 performances.  I have always been amazed with how the actors could not only do 10 performances a week, but also, at times, be either working another job, or rehearsing another show.  What has never failed to impress me is when the student’s actors can do so many rehearsals and performances while maintaining their school grades, among other activities and jobs.

Keep checking back here to see if I can make it…  YEOW!

Oklahoma - Two in a row!

Wee-haw!  Yes siree, two performances in a row of Oklahoma can be done!  Yeow! Today we proved that we could keep our energy up, even with two shows in a row.  Both performances were fantastic, and energy filled.  Having two wonderful audiences in the house helps keep our energy going.  Without their responses, it could get a little boring.  So all y'all in the house this Saturday, thank you for your support.  Come again, and/or, tell your friends and family to get out to see us, and right quick, as we might sell out.

One final performance left for the weekend on Sunday, with a talk back afterwards.  17 more chances to get out to see us.

Oklahoma - 2 down, 3 to go

Good evenin', y'all! 2 down, 3 to go!  Well, we just completed the second performance of our second weekend.  Yeow!  Thursday's performance went well, everybody seemed to remember most of the show.  I, however, had a little difficulty getting the lines to come out of my mouth.  And, with only a few other minor line/lyric mishaps, the show came off without a hitch.  Friday night's performance seemed to go great, at least I felt much better about it.  We had wonderful audiences each night.

Saturday will be the true test of the cast as we will have our first back-to-back performances, starting with the 2pm matinee.  Our calls for the day will be, 12:45pm call time for most actors, 1pm for the rest, 1:05 vocal warmups/mic checks, 1:30pm half hour, 2pm curtain.  The show should end around 4:45pm, cast should clear the lobby after meeting the audience by 5/5:10pm.  We'll have close to an hour before our 6:15pm call for the 7:30pm performance.  The cast and orchestra will be having a potluck "Box Social" between shows.

Let's hope we can keep up our energy!  Stay tuned to find out how it went!

Oklahoma - Back in the saddle, surrey?

Hey howdy!

It's your friendly Rancher, Ike Skidmore here.

Well, the cast of Oklahoma will be back at it tonight to start our second weekend of performances and our first public Thursday night performance.  After having three days off from the production it will be interesting to see if we all remember what to say, sing, dance and where to go.  For myself, having a smaller ensemble role, I'm not too concerned, with the exception of remembering when I need to be out on stage.  For the leads, I'm sure they have been going over the show in their heads, glancing at their scripts, singing their songs, and maybe even dancing.  I plan on my usual sing along with my music CD during my car ride to the theater, and hopefully a little dance refresher for Kansas City at Lyric Arts.

Coming up this weekend, we will be having our first two performance day on Saturday, a 2pm performance and a 7:30pm, can we keep our energy going for two in a row?  We'll see.  This Sunday, we will have our Page & Stage discussion after the show.  For more information about the Page & Stage, see link below.

Oklahoma - Opening Weekend Complete!

Well, we did it!  Opening weekend has come and gone.  Now we have 20 performances left for you to enjoy, so get your tickets soon!!!! It was a long week.  Since Saturday, February 11th, we had done five full run throughs, one preview, and three opening weekend performances, in front of very appreciative audiences.  Now we'll have a chance to rest up...well, most of us.  It's going to be nice having some evenings off again.  Yeow!  No worries folks, we'll be back at it this Thursday night!

Next Sunday, February 26th, we will have a Page & Stage discussion with the Director, Cast and other Artistic Staff.  To learn more about this event, listen to Lyric Arts Managing Director, Laura Tahja Johnson on WCCO Radio's Center Stage with Jearlyn Steele. (Click link below)




Oklahoma - Opening Night Y'all!

We did it!!!!  After a wonderful response from our invited "test" audience Thursday night, we were ready to open! Tonight we opened to what appeared to be a sold out crowd.  The audience was very responsive and appreciative of our performance.  It was so great to hear all the laughter and cheering throughout the show.  Even with the applause, we were told by our Stage Manager at intermission that we shaved time off the first act.  Hopefully it wasn't because of missed lines, but who knows?  I'd say that tonight was the best thus far, having run the entire show in 7 straight days.  Two more this weekend.  We get to rest for most of Saturday as we only have an evening show.

Hope to see you at the show real soon now, ya hear!


Oklahoma - Moving right along

Hey Y'all! Tonight we have an invited (preview) audience for our final dress rehearsal.  We are all very excited to have an audience...other than the artistic staff, that is.

This week we have been moving right along with run through, after run through.  Tuesday  night was a little rough though, after few actor mishaps, and some technical glitches. I wasn't too happy with my performance that night, as I felt I was a little off with some of my dancing and singing.  Wednesday night felt much better all around.  With the exception of a couple more minor technical glitches, it was a great run.  We have been keeping very consistent with our run time too, so that has been nice.  Dann, the director, along with the artistic staff agreed that we were ready for an audience.  Yeow!  Cain't wait to see and hear the audience reactions to the show.

Opening night is tomorrow!  Oh boy!