Oak Bay students get into a western state of mind

Theatre students put finishing touches on spring musical at Oak Bay High

Oklahoma! features a pair of love triangles. One sees cowboy Curly McLain (played by Mark Adams

The scene at the Oak Bay High theatre is classic Broadway.

Throughout the space, teens in early 20th-century western garb are gathered in groups of various sizes. Some are singing, while others work on dance steps. More than a few ‘howdys’ and ‘aw, hecks’ escape their lips. On stage is an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage and a farmhouse that would fit right in with The Wizard of Oz.

But instead of Kansas, all this song and dance is set a little further south. The students are in the final rehearsals for the school’s spring musical, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Oklahoma!

This is no fly-by-night operation. The production features a cast of 46, a 23-member orchestra, a dozen stagehands and 14 costume and makeup assistants. Until last weekend, the groups mostly worked separately, but with opening night fast approaching, the time has come to bring it all together. Thankfully for the man running the show, this group of nearly 100 students is ready for the challenge.

“What’s great about this opportunity is the kids start to think on their own,” says director Steven Price, at the helm for his seventh musical at the school. “When the show runs, I’m the only adult in the house – I sit up at the front and conduct the orchestra – and the rest of it’s all done by them.”

Before the curtain goes up on Friday, there’s still lots of work to be done. Costumes need finishing touches, scene-change hiccups must be sorted out and actors need to smooth out the onstage wrinkles.

However, one crucial detail has already been taken care of. Price managed to find a restored antique carriage known as a surrey, which is the subject of one of the show’s musical numbers and an important element in the play’s final scene.

“When we do shows with big set pieces, they tend to take on a life of their own, almost,” he says.

The story line of Oklahoma! revolves around characters with conflicting romantic interests, all of whom come together at a box social one evening.

“It’s a bunch of love stories kind of tangled up in one another, is the best way to describe the show,” says Grade 12 student Mark Adams, who plays the show’s protagonist, Curly McLain. Adams has been in previous musicals at the school, but this is his first time in a lead role.

Playing Laurey Williams, the object of Curly’s affections, is Grade 12 student Elsa MacDonald. She says it wasn’t hard to create the necessary romantic chemistry between the different characters.

“We’ve been working together on musicals for a while now, so we all know each other fairly well, so it was easier than expected,” she says.

“There’s nobody we really hate,” Adams adds with a laugh.

Though they started putting the show together back in October, the final product is worth the wait, MacDonald says. “Working with the whole cast and putting the time and effort in, then to see the result at the end as it all comes together, it’s kind of an amazing feeling to see that.”

It’s a sentiment shared by her director. “To see them coming together as individuals and coming together as young adults, it’s incredibly encouraging, because they just take it over and they take ownership of it,” says Price.

Oklahoma! opens Friday (Feb. 24) at 7:30 p.m. in the school’s west auditorium. Other evening shows happen Feb. 25 and 29, and March 1, 2 and 3. There’s also a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 26.

Tickets, $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, are available at the school’s east and west offices or at the door. For more information call 250-598-3361 ext. 429.

reporter@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read