Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Philip Skretvedt , who is performing as Curly McLain in Oklahoma!. Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular musical interested you?
PS: Oklahoma! was the first musical that I ever saw. It was put on by my hometown’s community theatre and I was just blow away by the live theatre experience. Great songs and great energy. It’s had a special place in my heart ever since.
LA: For those who unfamiliar with Oklahoma! can you tell us about the show?
PS: Oklahoma! is a classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical. It’s set around the time when Oklahoma was poised to become a state and the theme of people coming together carries through the whole show. You will likely identify many of the characters with people in your own everyday life. I don’t want to give too much away to those that have not seen it, so I will say that it’s simply just a lot of fun.
LA: Talk about the character that you play in Oklahoma!. How have you developed this character?
PS: I play Curly McLain. Curly is a great character to get to play with and develop. He’s definitely got plenty of confidence in his abilities but I’ve really enjoyed digging through his vulnerabilities. Laurey and Aunt Eller do a great job of pulling him back to earth and it’s fun being able to let those grounded parts of him come through.
LA: Why should people come and see Oklahoma!?
PS: People should come see Oklahoma! because it has everything you could want in a good musical. Most people will recognize one or two songs even if they have never seen the show. It has lots of fun characters, lots of laughs, dancing, fight scenes, love stories, and even a few surprise turns mixed in. It’s sure to put a smile on your face faster than any anti-depressant on the market!
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
PS: Everybody’s characters are really coming along well. Getting that Oklahoma accent down just right can be a tricky endeavor, let me tell you. Tom Goeger’s take on Jud Fry is really developing well. Lots of layers getting added to his character each week. Stephanie’s take on Laurey Williams is really great too. I spend a lot of time with her on stage and now that our scripts are out of our hands, it’s great to see her character come alive. Her character really demands a lot out of an actor.
LA: What do you feel are the "wow" elements of Oklahoma!?
PS: I think the set and the costumes really are a great element to the show. Seeing all those cowboy and pioneer type costumes next to the great buildings and stage elements can really transport an audience to that place in time. Then when you add the song and dance elements, it’s like a two hour vacation. A feast for the eyes and ears.
LA: Tell us what you found to be unexpected in Oklahoma!? (It can be anything involving the show; music, script, history, etc.)
PS: The most unexpected thing for me has been to watch each cast member’s unique take on their character. I have seen this show several times and have acted in this show once before, and it’s always fun to watch a cast put their own twist on things. A different line reading, a different expression, hairstyle, costume, a different characterization, etc. The place I see this the most is with the ensemble cast. Someone will pull something great out of only a couple lines of dialogue or some non-verbal reaction. It’s really fun.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
PS: I’m particularly excited to see the dream ballet come to life once we have all the costumes, stage and lighting added. It’s really coming along well. Also, the fight scenes. I haven’t had many opportunities to do fight scenes so I’ve been really having fun getting involved in those rehearsals.
LA: Are musicals easier or harder then straight show? If so, why?
PS: I think musicals are easier than a straight show. They demand WAY more from a performer than straight shows in terms of physical and vocal elements, but songs are much easier for me to memorize than long monologues. Also musicals tend to have more happiness involved on the whole. It can be hard to rehearse a serious straight show night after night when it involves some heavy or dark emotions. Musicals tend to get me leaving the theatre with a smile on my face each rehearsal night.
LA: What is your favorite musical to watch?
PS: I really enjoy watching Les Miserable.
LA: Being that Oklahoma! takes place during the turn of the century, what do consider the best invention of this century? Why?
PS: As in this current century? I would have to say the smart phone. Portable internet is like having a walking tutor with you at all times. Gives you access to music, videos, driving directions, and now even video chatting with friends and family. Our ancestors would spontaneously combust if they would have seen this technology in their time.
LA: To date what is your favorite role that you have played and why?
PS: My favorite role to date that I have played was John Proctor in the Crucible. I got to play this character in college and it was my first leading role. I was over the moon just by being given the opportunity. It’s not often I get the chance to play a flawed, angry character with such principles and redemption. It was a great opportunity to push my range.
LA: What is your dream character to play on stage?
PS: I would love the chance to be Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” some day. Also the Balladeer in “Assassins,” or Hamlet, or McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
PS: Lets see, I grew up in North Western Minnesota. Crookston to be exact. I’ve been living down here in the cities for about 8 years now. I currently live in St. Paul where in my 9-5 day I am an in-home mental health practitioner (similar to social work), which keeps me very busy. Whenever I can, I like to write some sketch comedy, watch a lot of movies, and push myself to learn some new skill or do something out of the ordinary. I’m a terrible cook and bit more disorganized then the average person, but I like to think that I’m working on these.