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.
Rick A. McAllister (Ike Skidmore)