BIDWELL — River Valley students are hard at work preparing for the annual musical, which will take place this year on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Berry Performing Arts Center on the University of Rio Grande campus.
This year’s selection is the musical “Oklahoma!” by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers. The production is put on by students with the help of a few community members that volunteer their time. The cast, which is 40 strong is made up entirely of students who auditioned before Christmas break. Students and crew have been rehearsing and preparing for the full production that comes this weekend.
“Students have put in a tremendous amount of rehearsal time to get to where we are today. Now is all the fun stuff; costumes, props, and of course the University of Rio Grande stage,” said Director Allyson Johnston.
The benefits of participating in a production are numerous and dependent on what role the student plays in making it happen. According to Johnston, the greatest benefits aren’t always the skills necessary for singing and dancing.
“I believe these students can learn a lot from being involved in any aspect of a production like this. There are the obvious; speaking, singing, and stage presence. Behind the scenes, I have a great stage crew that really have learned organization, planning, and time management,” said Johnston. “But mostly, I love to watch kids form friendships and find their place on the stage. Several of the lead characters this year were chorus members last year. They enjoyed themselves so much that they ‘nerded’ out over musicals and acting which landed them leading roles this year. They go above and beyond the call, always asking how to improve, and practicing outside of the classroom which is unheard of anymore.”
When talking to the students, a common theme becomes readily apparent; teamwork and the value of cooperation. Hannah Hawks is a senior playing Aunt Eller in the play. According to Hawks, team is the most valuable aspect.
“Teamwork, knowing who is saying what and how to say it back, running lines a lot,” said Hawkes.
Ian Eblin, who portrays Curly McLane loves seeing the whole production come together with all of the elements and small roles adding to the value of the whole production.
“The part of being in the production for me especially, is you get to see all of it come together,” Eblin said. “Obviously you as a person have to know your lines and when you come in, but seeing the backstage crew and how much work actually goes into that, we spent 12 hours here yesterday building the house. It’s a ton of work and it’s held up by a lot of people, it’s not one person or two people, its a large group.”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and can be purchased online at rivervalley.ludus.com. According to Johnston, the production is only possible thanks to Ohio Valley Bank who sponsored the event.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.