Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
If local theater arts enthusiasts are craving a performance consisting of a family-friendly combination of comedic, doleful and chilling elements, North Lincoln High School’s upcoming production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration, Oklahoma!, will be sure to hit the spot.
The portrayal of the playwright’s famous Romeo-and-Juliet-themed storyline, filled with emotional singing and dancing from a more than 40-member cast, features a 17-member student orchestra led by North Lincoln Director of Bands Neil Underwood.
His wife, Joanna, who has headed the school’s choral and drama activities for nearly a decade now, encouraged the community to attend the “typical love story” for at least one of this week’s four showings.
“Boy meets girl; boy wants girl,” she said.
While Joanna said most other area high schools are reluctant to use their student bands for musical productions, calling on outside talent for the job, she said North Lincoln prides itself on using its own student talent.
“It’s important for our kids to have this unique experience,” she said.
Several of the student actors have drawn inspiration from their high school drama and choral careers, much like the Underwoods said they once did, and already know that they would like to pursue such artistic career fields in college, including senior Chris Belk.
Belk, who plays “Curly,” an attractive cowboy who falls in love with farm girl “Laurey” during the time when American settlers were exploring the Western frontier, started performing in plays in his South Carolina hometown at age six and plans to major in vocal performance.
He described his Oklahoma! character, the biggest role to date of his high school career, as a “comically arrogant” and “sarcastic” individual. He also noted that participating in musicals is a “totally different animal” from other genres of plays and is a genre he most definitely prefers, since it allows him to simultaneously sing and act.
“It’s like becoming someone else,” he said.
Fellow senior actor and leading lady, Morgan Spence, who plays the role of “Laurey” and worked to save her voice during Tuesday’s rehearsal, recovering from a recent bout with mono,
described the young love birds’ relationship as a cat-and-mouse chase.
“In that time period, they would insult each other to flirt,” she said. “’Laurey plays hard to get but finally gives in.”
Senior Rebecca DeGregory, better known as Oklahoma!’s Aunt Eller, has been in theater since sophomore year and couldn’t feel more at home than with her drama peers.
“It’s somewhere you’re not frowned upon,” she said of her acting class. “You can be outlandish, and others will join in with you. In sports, the goal is to win, but here, it’s to be entertaining. We’re all naturally entertaining as a group.”
And outlandish is exactly the type of role that junior Gracie Lowman has to fill as “Ado Annie,” a naive woman who specializes in luring men and whose theme song is entitled “I’m a Girl Who Can’t Say No.”
“She’s pretty much the opposite of me,” Lowman laughed. “She’s outgoing and loves men’s attention.”
However, the 16-year-old said she had no trouble getting into character and has enjoyed temporarily lowering her IQ for the quirky role.
“I like playing dumb,” she said. “It’s fun.”
will show 7:30 p.m. nightly Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the high school auditorium, located at 2737 Lee Lawing Road in Lincolnton. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling the school at (704) 736-1969 ext. 61725.