Westfield High School Theatre students are busy at work on their production of "Oklahoma!," the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about life in the midwest at the turn of the century, set to open in May for four performances. Zö Dillard directs this musical, with more than 125 students involved on stage, in the orchestra pit and behind the scenes.
WESTFIELD'S "Oklahoma!" features 58 actors, singers and dancers including Barry Armbruster (Curly), Kelsey Ray (Laurey), Courtney Knickerbocker (Aunt Eller), Branson Reese (Ali Hakim), Kevin Manship (Will Parker), Stephen Hatch (Jud), Ashley Dillard (Ado Annie), Dallas Sweezy (Carnes), Sean Youngberg (Cord), Ariel Herman (Gertie), Sarah Pike (Soloist), Adrienne Ginter (Dream Laurey) and Alex Kruszewski (Dream Curly).
Lead student technicians include stage manager Cheryl Cordingley, assistant stage managers Loralee Rolfe and Leandra Jacobson, assistant director Natalie McLarty and technical director Sarah Crossett.
Now that Dillard has cast the show, she is teaming with Scott D. Pafumi (technical director and artistic director of Westfield Theatre) and a staff of student technicians to create the world of the sweeping plains and colorful sunsets where "the corn is as high as an elephant's eye" (using a set designed by Brian Randall).
In addition to Pafumi, Dillard is collaborating with Westfield colleagues Jessica Lardin (vocal director) and Charles Chaffin (musical pit director). Yvonne Henry is choreographing the show, helping Dillard to integrate song and dance into the love story of Curly and Laurey. Dance captains are students Reema Samaha and Monica Murgia.
"OKLAHOMA!" first premiered on stage in 1943 and revolutionized the Broadway musical, making dance and song integral to the story. To pay homage to 1943 — the year that "Oklahoma!" debuted on Broadway, Westfield's audiences will be treated to lobby displays that evoke the sights and sounds of World War II, from visual displays to concession tables to the big band sounds of Westfield Jazz.
The decade of the '40s has been spotlighted in this season of American classics, with the students performing several pieces that gained acclaim in the 1940's, including "Our Town," "Arsenic and Old Lace" and scenes written by Tennessee Williams.