Julia Lee, News Writer
With the departure of Mr. Blanck, and the arrival of a new director, the anticipated fall musical took a turn. However, with the dedication and hard work from the students and teachers, the musical, “Oklahoma”, became a success.
The new director, Ms. Gravel, felt uncomfortable at first, mainly because she had never seen the musical, nor heard any of the songs. Additionally, the western theme was unfamiliar to her because of her Canadian background. Thus, she had to do a number of things to understand the context of the script. These things involved watching past productions of the play and researching the time period.
The musical itself wasn’t originally chosen by Ms. Gravel. Last Spring, Mr. Blanck and Dr. Park gave her a list of three different musicals that would serve as candidates for this year’s musical. According to Ms. Gravel, she was urged to choose this particular musical. It was the least complicated of the three.
Ms. Gravel’s greatest difficulty with the production would prove to be the limited amount of time. With less than three months to put the production together, everything had to be done as soon as possible. To Ms. Gravel’s surprise, about a third of the actors didn’t have much experience with performing on stage. Ms. Gravel stated, “I found that surprising because they were extremely, extremely talented.” Similarly, casting the students required a lot of work and prayer. After the first week of auditions, the production still needed five students. Ms. Gravel had to personally ask certain people which worked out efficiently. Stephanie Kim, a freshman, joined the cast and became one of the lead roles.
Lighting and sound effects quickly became a major issue during production. Ms. Gravel described the technical difficulties during rehearsals, and was glad that the production had students who were both experienced and knowledgable in the light and sound booth. She was also glad that Ms. Whiteside was able to guide the students when they worked.
Robby Hwang, junior, worked with the microphones. According to Robby, they decided to do something new with the microphones, “For the previous two years we just tried to hook everyone up with a mic. But this time, with a new director, we took a different approach where we only miked the singing characters, but for the rest of the scenes, they wouldn’t be miked at all.”
They also used a new method of putting microphones onto the actors. In the past, they had tried to attach the microphone onto a part of the costume. This year, Ms. Whiteside took over the responsibility of the microphones and thought up the idea of clipping the microphones onto the actor’s hair. This proved to be more efficient for both the actors and the audience.
Not only were lighting and sound a problem in the production, availability of the costumes had a problem of its own. For Ms. Gravel, it was disappointing to see that only one of the actors had proper cowboy boots. Fortunately, this hardly concerned the audience. With a limitations, the production had to “get creative,” with actors bringing in their own jeans and footwear. Costumes from past plays, worn mainly by female actors, served their purpose.
Performing with a country accent was a huge challenge for the actors on stage. Ms. Gravel thought the script helped the actors understand the mindset and personality of their character. At the end of the day, it came together, providing a more western theme. For the actors, most of them decided to not incorporate the accent into their acting. However, there were a few actors who were able to act out their character well with the accent. One of them was senior, Monica Cho who states, “Honestly, I wanted to do that for a really long time. Come on, English is just so plain.” Geena Huh was also inspired to use a country accent because of her background as a country girl.
Throughout the experience, Ms. Gravel was proud of their work and thought that it was cool to see both the actors and crew members develop their skills on stage. She describes their journey from being completely scattered and frustrated, to coming together and making their hard work worthwhile. Overall, all of the actors and crew members have made special memories during this process. Ms. Gravel has plans for the next theatre production, and the student body hopes to soon see another fantastic play this school year.
2 thoughts on “Community conquers fall musical complications”
Great article, Julia! And great job Oklahoma cast and crew!
The best article I have ever read in my entire life 🙂 And I am completely unbiased.
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