The UC Davis department of theatre and dance present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Oklahoma! on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Jackson Hall.
The production is directed and choreographed by Granada Artist-in-Residence Mindy Cooper, who previously directed and choreographed Urinetown: The Musical in 2007.
Tickets can be purchased online at theatredance.ucdavis.edu or at the Mondavi Center ticket office for $12 with a student ID and $20 general admission. Faculty member Jon Rossini will lead a dramaturgical talk discussing the history, influence and importance of the musical on Sunday at 1 p.m. The event is free to ticket holders.
The story, which follows a romance between cowboy Curly McLain and cowgirl Laurey Williams, takes place in the early 1900s when the state of Oklahoma came into being.
As director, Cooper protected the context of the play, emphasizing the importance of accurately depicting the time period.
“I have set the story exactly as it needs to be at the turn of the century … you cannot change this. [It’s] too innate in the storyline,“ Cooper said.
Music director and MFA candidate David Moschler pointed out the rarity of a musical where literally every song is a hit. Classic numbers include “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin‘” and “Surrey with the Fringe on Top.“
However, Moschler described certain challenges that go along with putting on a production that was written in the ‘40s.
“To help create a genuine theatrical and musical experience that is unique to our production … you end up having to push the boundaries of what people are expecting. The older and more popular the work is, the more of a challenge it becomes, which makes my job very exciting,” Moschler said.
Moschler worked with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra for Oklahoma!
“Working with the [orchestra] has been a gratifying experience, since it is rare to mount a production of Oklahoma! with a full symphony orchestra in the pit and in a world-class performance space such as Jackson Hall,” Moschler said.
Oklahoma! attracted a diverse group of cast and crew. Moschler said that this multitude of mixed talent helped to create a climate where everyone has something to learn from each other.
“We have cast members with extensive vocal training, some with professional dance experience and some are accomplished actors, and everything in between,” he said.
Goldin described the cast’s excitement working on the show.
“When I walk into a rehearsal, I feel the limitless energy of the cast. It has been a pleasure creating the world of Oklahoma! in the studio, and I cannot wait to bring the piece to life on the glorious Mondavi stage,” she said.
Cooper listed her work with UC Davis students as one of her favorite parts of working on Oklahoma!.
“It has been an uplifting experience working at UC Davis. The students are passionate, energetic and talented. It has been a good learning curve for all of them,“ she said.
The cast and crew have expressed high hopes for the audience‘s reception this weekend.
“I think people will enjoy this show because the songs are classic and the love story is timeless,” said Goldin. “I also think that the pride the cast feels when singing the title song of Oklahoma! is a feeling the entire UC Davis community can relate to as we celebrate the centennial of our university.“
For more information, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu.
JULIA MCCANDLESS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.