WILLIAMSTOWN -- Students at Mount Greylock Regional High School's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" opens tonight at 7 p.m., with additional showings on Friday and Saturday.
Director Jeff Welch, who also serves as head of the school's social studies and music departments, said he picked "Oklahoma!" to appeal to a wide audience.
"Every year I try to pick something that's good for all ages, so members of the community can come and enjoy it," he said.
Set in the Oklahoma territory in 1906, the musical features the love affairs between two couples and the lives of various ranch workers.
"It's a nice ensemble show," Welch said. "There are some somber songs, but for the most part, the music is lively."
During the production, students also worked with the school's chorus teacher Kate Caton, local dance teacher Ann Marie Rodriguez, and the school's band director, Lyndon Moors, who directed the pit orchestra.
Welch said middle school students have traditionally performed in a separate production, but a declining student population made that difficult. As students already intermingle among grade levels, there was no reason not to do a combined play, he said.
Senior Blake Sherman, who plays the character of Curly, said older students were welcoming to the younger students.
"People who have known each other for a long time are sort of ushering in the new people," he said.
Welch said students have been hard at work since the beginning of the year. Auditions were held in December, he said, and rehearsals started right after Christmas break.
Senior Schuyler Jones, who plays the character of Andrew Carnes, said rehearsals became more rigorous after February break.
"We were getting out mostly at 4 or 5 p.m.," he said. "And during the past few days, students were rehearsing until 8 p.m. in full costume," he added.
Students all agreed that mastering their characters' southern accents was the hardest thing about the play, leading many students to turn to YouTube for help.
"When we started, people were stumbling and stammering," Sherman said.
Students also agreed they were excited for opening night.
"It's fun to show off what you're doing for friends and family," said senior Miranda Park, who plays the character of Aunt Eller.
Welch said he is just as excited for opening night as the students.
"It's so nice to see the kids do something they're proud of," Welch said.
The essentials ...
What:"Oklahoma," Mount Greylock Regional Schoo's spring musical
When: 7 p.m., Tonight through Sunday
Where:Mount Greylock Regional High School auditorium, 1781 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown
Tickets:Available at the door. $6 for students and seniors, and $8 for adults.
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