From left to right: Corey Wentland is Will; Dani Buck is Ado Annie; Elizabeth Bronk is Laurey; and Andrew Lawrence is Curly in Byron High's production of "Oklahoma!" Photo by David Richards
By David Richards
On stage, it was a world of cowboy boots and flannel shirts and a white front porch. Off stage, it was lettermen's jackets propped onto empty seats and math homework.
That combination meant one thing Monday, March 11: practice for the spring musical.
Byron High School students gathered into the Byron Middle School performing arts center for a four-hour optional practice that also landed on a snow day.
The cast and crew were continuing preparations for "Oklahoma!" which runs this week from March 21-23 at 7 each night at the middle school.
The music is by Richard Rodgers, with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and story based on the play, "Green Grow the Lilacs," by Lynn Riggs.
Set in the South in 1906, the familiar play, filled with catchy musical numbers, tells the story of two romances. It's about smooth cowboy Curly's quest to win the love of farm girl Laurey. And about confident cowboy Will Parker and his love interest Ado Annie.
All of this is set in a backdrop of colorful supporting characters, fields of corn, butter churns and songs such as, "Kansas City," which has "gone about as fur as she can go."
"The kids are having fun," said Sandra Miller, artistic director for Byron Public Schools. "It's a lot of dancing. Audiences can expect a lot of fun costumes and some set surprises."
Miller said she never really liked "Oklahoma!" that much, which explains why this is the first time Miller has done it in the more than two decades she's been with the district.
It wasn't until she went to Tulsa, Okla. last summer and researched some of the production's history.
"I've changed my mind," Miller said. "I like it now."
Byron High's version stars Andrew Lawrence as Curly and Elizabeth Bronk as Laurey, both seniors.
At Monday's practice, the cast did a run through of the play, with Miller offering tips for ways to improve.
"Slow down," she said at one point to a couple of actors rehearsing their lines.
"This is the South. Nothing goes fast in the South."
Lawrence said he enjoys being in the musical and playing the role of Curly.
"The best thing about Curly is that he's kind of confident and cocky so I can do whatever I want on stage, within reason," Lawrence said.
Bronk said she was drawn to Laurey for the same reason, the character's confidence.
"She just seemed like a fun character to play," Bronk said. "She's a lot more confident than I am, so maybe that's way I like it."