Students from multiple performing arts programs enliven “Oklahoma!”
The second act of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Oklahoma!”—presented by the Crossroads Drama Conservatory in six sold-out performances this past December—opens with the company singing and dancing the comedic number “The Farmer and the Cowman.” Echoing the tensions between the two male leads, farmhand Jud (11th grader Jared Belushi) and rancher Curly (12th grader Levi Port), the song ultimately proposes that collaboration is key for the title territory to become a prosperous state. As such, the tune is an apt analogy for Crossroads’ production of the show: Under Scott Weintraub’s direction, actors, singers, dancers and musicians worked together to make “Oklahoma!” a stage success.
Crossroads’ production of this prototypical “book musical” featured the talents of 16 Drama Conservatory students, who demonstrated remarkable skills in singing, dancing and acting. A 13-piece orchestra accompanied the cast, clad in plaid shirts, kerchiefs and straw hats. Directed and conducted by Upper School Music Department Chair Evan Avery, the orchestra comprised students from both the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) and jazz ensembles.
“This production was really fun because we were on stage, part of the show,” shares one EMMI student. “Oklahoma!” offered ample opportunity for the musicians to get in on the action—players ducked behind their instruments during a violent fight, and one bid (unsuccessfully) in a pivotal auction scene.
“I love connecting with the other performing arts groups,” says Scott. Finding time and space to work together is often a challenge; Scott looks forward to increased collaboration as the School develops its plans for a new performing arts facility: “That’s one of the things I’m really excited about.”
In November, the members of the Drama Conservatory performed the dramedy “Men on Boats.” The musical comedy “Urinetown” runs Feb. 21-March 1.