Edge, Theater

‘Golden-age classic’ ‘Oklahoma’ comes to campus

Giancarlo Falconi // Staff Photographer

Giancarlo Falconi // Staff Photographer

The waving wheat and wind-swept plains have settled the territory of the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre in its latest production of “Oklahoma.”

The show premiered Wednesday and features a cast of 25 UM students performing the classic golden-age musical.

The show was the first written by famed duo composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. It debuted on Broadway in 1943. It was later remade into a movie in 1955 starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.

Set in the territory of Oklahoma in 1906, the show follows the romance between cowboy Curly McLain and farm girl Laurey Williams. With such a classic musical as the Ring’s season-closer, the cast felt concerned about appealing to a college audience with a more traditional show.

According to junior Brian Reiff, who plays Jud Fry, trying to make the show appeal to younger audiences was difficult, but the show is “wholesome,” and “light-hearted” and filled with things students may not expect.

“They hear ‘Oklahoma’ and they think of this golden-age classic show and that reads to them as boring but in actuality there are so many things brought up in it that it think can translate into modern day well,” Reiff said.

As with many classical musicals, the show will feature several grand dance numbers and well-known songs.

Senior April Ripley performs as 60-year-old Aunt Eller and believes older audience members will be familiar with the songs “Oklahoma,” “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “Many a New Day.” She notes that nearly every song is a dance number as well, which is uncommon in modern musicals.

“I know my grandmother, who’s 98, will be tickled pink to come watch something that when she was in her 40s and 50s went and saw and was in love with,” Ripley said.

Senior Schyler Rice will perform as lead female Laurey Williams, a tomboy who is in love with the male lead Curly (senior Luke Hamilton) but does not want to admit it.

Rice considers “Oklahoma” to be a dance-heavy show. She will perform the classic dream ballet scene, unlike in other productions where the “Dream Laurey” dance role is a separate performer. Rice was thrilled to perform both parts alongside Hamilton.

“I guess you could say I’m old fashioned,” she said. “It was a challenge but it didn’t seem as hard as it really was because I was having so much fun because I love it so much.”

As she is more of a “girly-girl,” Rice said it was challenging to physically and vocally portray her tomboy character. However, she could relate to Laurey in that they are both small-town girls. Rice comes from a small town in northern California with 3,000 people and one stoplight.

In fitting the vast territory of Oklahoma into the small ring theater, the production embraces a minimalist set design and incorporated painted panels above the audience.

For Ripley, having the chance to perform a well-known story was a way to embrace the past while incorporating newer elements.

“It’s fun to have a throwback musical in such a contemporary musical world. It was fun to get to learn that style of music,” she said. “It was exciting to have a throwback, to be able to have a nod to the old but still have new choreography and the costuming and everything.”



WHEN: Through April 26

WHERE: Jerry Herman Ring Theatre

COST: Tickets start at $25 and are $10 for students. April 21 will be Totally Tuesday, when students can watch the show for free.

April 15, 2015


Ashley Martinez

Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

The Miami Hurricanes, still waiting for a starting quarterback to be named, are in the top 25 again. ...

Happy first day of school for everyone out there, including the University of Miami students. We jus ...

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.