‘Oklahoma!’ is largest CAST production to date

   The Community Actors of South Texas (CAST) are currently holding rehearsals in preparation for opening night of the musical “Oklahoma!” at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at the Van Vleck High School auditorium.
   “This is a huge production – the largest that CAST has done yet,” said vice president of production Zeinab Ghais.
   “My job for ‘Oklahoma!’ is lead set designer for the show.”
   Timothy Rhoades is the director and his focus is just on directing, she says.
   Stephen Logan is the choreographer, along with Dr. Kara Cowart, who is in charge of music.
   “Mary Dykes is our producer,” said Ghais.
   “Jessica Jones is in charge of makeup and Diana Silva is in charge of costumes.”
   Jones is also writing the biographies of the cast members in order to display them in the entrance of the auditorium.
   “There will be actual pictures of the cast members along with their bios,” she said.
   “It’s only for the main characters so that people can get a face with the name.”
   As the largest production by CAST to date, jobs had to be broken up in order to make sure it was successful.
Other CAST members are doing smaller jobs like ticket sales, working the sound board and lights as well as ushering.
   “Usually the director helps to facilitate all of those tasks,” she said.
   “But, because this is such a big production, we wanted to have him just focusing on directing.”
   Ghais has utilized help from other CAST members in building the set for the musical.
   “We put feelers out early before school let out to Van Vleck and Bay City,” said Ghais.
   “We knew from previous productions that they did that we might be able to use some of their set pieces.”
   Ghais acquired the front of a farm house from Bay City High School to act as “Skidmore Ranch” on one side before flipping over to be “Aunt Eller’s house” on the other.
   “We also took some parts to make our fencing on stage and part of the background depth fencing,” said Ghais.
   Her production team also built their own smokehouse out of old fencing pieces and a platform at Van Vleck.
   “It only has two walls, but we built it from scratch,” she said. “There wasn’t enough room on the stage for more than two walls.”
    This has been a challenge, because it is so big, she says.
   “Especially the biggest number – ‘Kansas City,’” said Ghais.
   “There has to be some give and take involved. Our actors are not professionals or haven’t acted in anything since high school or college.”
   Three people in this production have never been in a CAST production, she said.
   “We’ve got some people branching out and that’s really exciting,” said Ghais.
   “It brings in a new level of interaction with new talent.”
   And it’s not just about being on stage in front of the audience, she says.
   “If you want to learn the sound board and how to work the lights, we encourage people with those sort of interests to join us,” she said.
   The play will run July 23-26 at the Van Vleck High School auditorium.
   Tickets cost $18 for adults and $15 for students and senior citizens.
   ‘Oklahoma!’ is based in the Oklahoma territory near the town of Claremore in 1906 and written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
   It tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams.
   There is a secondary romance that concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.
   There’s villains, a dream sequence and a love story wrapped up in the musical.
   The original Broadway production opened on March 31, 1943, and has ran for over 2,200 performances.
   ‘Oklahoma!’ is currently on tour in the UK for 2015.


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