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  • “Oklahoma!” at Severna Park High School features a talented cast of students and promises plenty of romance, music, comedy and adventure.
    Photo by Sharon Mager
    “Oklahoma!” at Severna Park High School features a talented cast of students and promises plenty of romance, music, comedy and adventure.

Severna Park High School To Present “Oklahoma!”

Sharon Mager
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November 3, 2017

Set at the turn of the 20th century, “Oklahoma!” has resonated with audiences since 1943, when they were first introduced to a cast of cowboys and farmhands searching for love. Severna Park High School will present its version of “Oklahoma!” for its annual fall musical on November 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7:00pm and on November 12 at 3:00pm.

With musical numbers like “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and “People Will Say We’re in Love,” the show will be a nostalgic experience for older folks and a revelation to a new generation unfamiliar with its story.

“Oklahoma!” was the first collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It’s a comedy, romance and musical rolled into one.

Theater arts teacher and director Angie Germanos said the show is an audience favorite. “A lot of people consider this one of older musicals and not so current,” she said. “Maybe it doesn’t have the humor they expect, but the cast has reacted very well to the show. They really like the square dancing.”

Germanos said the show is challenging, with a good range of music and some complicated dance steps, but the cast and crew are up to the task. “This year’s orchestra is probably the biggest we’ve had since ‘Les Misérables,’” Germanos added.

One reason Germanos chose “Oklahoma!” is because the theater program has a “bumper crop” of talented boys, which isn’t always the case.

“The show is amazing; the cast is a really fun mix of people,” said senior Jake Wernecke, who plays Curly and is also cast as Beast in Children’s Theatre of Annapolis’ upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Wernecke plays opposite Alena Carhart, who is cast as Laurey, the spunky niece of a farm owner.

“‘Oklahoma!’ is a wonderful show because it offers a multitude of emotions in its humor and romance, and also [has] a little bit of action thrown in,” Wernecke continued. “My favorite part of the show is when Alena and I sing the ‘People Will Say We’re In Love’ reprise, because it almost answers the original song by affirming the relationship between the two of us. Throughout the entire show, Curly and Laurey are flirty with each other, with no real conclusion, until this scene when they decide to let people say they’re in love.”

Soft-spoken and slim, with long blond hair, Carhart is perfect for the part of Laurey, who she called “a strong, independent woman that I like.” Carhart said “Oklahoma!” was her grandmother’s favorite musical. “She used to sing the songs around the house,” Carhart said.

Nolan Marks, who plays antagonist Jud Fry, is a true actor, going from a brooding, dark-haired Jud to his personable, fun-loving self as he bantered with Matt Hall, who plays Ali Hakim.

“I'm thrilled to be playing Jud,” Marks said. “It’s the most extensive and interesting role I've ever had on the Severna Park High School stage. An aspect I enjoy about the role is that Jud is not the ruthless ‘bad guy,’ instead forcing the audience to sympathize with him, if only during his solo, ‘Lonely Room.’”

As Ali Hakim, a traveling salesman with the outrageous checkered suit, Hall will evoke some laughs. He’s got the role and accent down.

Germanos said it was always a challenge to practice with the students’ busy schedules. Marks agreed, adding, “This is a testament to our involvement in the school and community.”

The technical team is working hard, Germanos said, providing the backdrops and scenery, costumes and more. The team is also being careful with props such as the hay, using fire-retardant and hypoallergenic materials.

Senior Bianca Radice, who plays the spirited and elderly Aunt Eller, is also the play’s student director. “I think that the audience will really enjoy this show because it's our first musical on the new stage!” she said. “That means bigger and better props, more room for the orchestra, and more opportunities for the dancers and actors.”

Also new this year is the addition of signers to convey several songs to the deaf community. Providing that service are sign language teacher Brittney Jones and several of her students.

The school participates with the Cappies, a writing and awards program designed to train high school theater and journalism students in leadership and critical thinking. Schools participate in critiquing other participating school productions and their own plays are also critiqued. Germanos said Severna Park High School has been the recipient of many Cappies awards and they’re proud of them. They’re hoping “Oklahoma!” garners more accolades.

The show, she said, is a huge amount of fun and learning for the students. One day, they’ll perhaps be singing the finale of “Oklahoma!” to their grandchildren.

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