Siler City, NC – The iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” returns musical theater to Jordan-Matthews High School later this month after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.
Performances at the JM Auditorium are Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 27, at 3 p.m. General admission tickets are $5 each and now available online at JMArtsTickets.com. The remaining tickets will be sold at the door before each performance. No passes — including Chatham County Schools and senior citizens’ passes — can be accepted. Everyone entering the theater, regardless of age, must have a ticket.
“Oklahoma!,” by musical theater legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, took Broadway by storm when it opened in 1943. Its frontier setting, glorious music and broad comedy have delighted audiences all over the world for almost 70 years, including in the classic 1955 film starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.
The developing romance between cowboy Curly and farm girl Laurey forms the heart of the story. But Will Parker’s quest to get $50 cash so he can marry Ado Annie is complicated by the womanizing peddler Ali Hakim — and by the farmhand Jud, who is determined to push Curly aside and win Laurey. At any cost.
Jordan-Matthews’ production features a 24-member cast, with students in art and carpentry classes building and painting scenery.
While the musical is a family favorite, producer Rose Pate says “Oklahoma!” may not be appropriate for younger children. A minimum age of 8-years-old to attend is strongly suggested because of the length of the show and some stage violence. Still, she said, it’s a show that will connect with audiences.
“This show has everything — memorable music, lots of humor and a sweet romance,” Pate said. “It’s a great show for families to see together.”
Creating a full-scale musical is an enormous challenge under the best of circumstances, but particularly when the last musical ended in ovember 2019 before the pandemic. On the other hand, director Sawyer
Shafer believes the students’ joy being back on stage is driving their work.
“I’ve had a wonderful time working with the kids on this production,” he said. “Jordan-Matthews has a lot of talent that I’m sure will shine through in this year’s performance. It’s exciting to see how happy they are to finally be back on stage after two years!”
Shafer is in his first year as director, succeeding Jessica Nunn, who recently accepted a teaching position in England. Also in his first year working with Jordan-Matthews theater is Elliott Peterson, who began teaching music at the school last semester. He had some apprehension about being the musical director for “Oklahoma!” because, as he pointed out, “it’s no walk in the park” and he didn’t know what to expect. But he has been impressed.
“I am so pleased with the amount of growth and progress these actors have shown since the first rehearsal in every aspect, but especially the music,” he said. “To have students who have never been in a choir sing in multiple part harmonies after only a couple weeks of music rehearsals reminds me why musical theater is so special. You can feel the joy in their voices with every note they sing.”
Other members of the creative team are Cynthia Bredenberg on wardrobe and scenery designers Ting Lam and Marcus Lawson, all Jordan-Matthews faculty. Sophomore Sarah Dekaney is the dance captain, and senior Paige Colborne and sophomore Andrey Urena Secena are stage managers.
More information about the production and other arts events scheduled for this season is available online at jmarts.org.