"Oklahoma!" production ramps up as April opening draws near

Crew member cuts wooden boards for set design

A crew member cuts boards for the set design of Oklahoma!

The cast and crew of “Oklahoma!” are heavily involved with a rigorous rehearsal and production schedule for actors, choreographers, technicians, musicians, and crew who will spend the next few weeks laboring to bring the classic American musical to life.

Sound design for “Oklahoma!” is particularly challenging as it incorporates an orchestra along with actors singing and dancing on stage. This production will feature special guest sound consultant Allen Sanders, who is working closely with two students to create a sound design that will ultimately interface vocals with the orchestra. Sanders has a lengthy list of theatre credits to his name, including a Tony Award nomination for his work on sound design for “A Little Night Music,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. He currently works as the Technical Director and Production Manager for The Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia.

Behind the Scenes Video: Costume Design for "Oklahoma!"

Director Wesley Young checks in on costume design with an ensemble dancer
Director Wesley Young checks in on costume design with an ensemble dancer

Students fill a substantial number of key positions in the production. In addition to portraying characters on stage, they also undertake a variety of behind-the-scenes roles. The production features a student scenic designer and a student lighting designer whose work is integral to how the performance will look and flow onstage. “Any musical has a lot of moving parts. This production has a cast of thirty-three, not to mention the creative team, stage management and crew. So, it is a lot to wrangle and keep it on track moving toward the end vision of what we want it to be,” said Professor Wesley Young, who is directing the production.

Each academic year the Department of Theatre selects three promotions for its mainstage season. “Oklahoma!” was chosen largely because musical productions provide numerous opportunities for dance, theatre, and music students to collaborate in ways that do not often occur in classroom environments.

“This particular play is renowned for its integration of dance into the story so we knew it would be a way to have a good bit of crossover with dance students having to sing and act, and theatre students having to dance and sing. It provides us a chance to drive home to these students how important it is to have all the skills in order to be a well-rounded performer and to be marketable in today’s entertainment world,” said Young.

Of course, beyond the beneficial learning experiences the production will create for students, “Oklahoma!” was also selected because it is a classic American musical that is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Radford University’s production is slated to raise its curtain just a few days after the actual anniversary of the original Broadway opening. Curtains will go up on April 10 at 7:30 p.m., and for five nights audiences will be able to enjoy a piece of musical Americana right here on campus.

Professor David Wheeler discusses set design with crew members

Professor David Wheeler discusses set design with crew members

Mar 7, 2018
Jason Hutchens, Ed.D.