Craig The dressing room exuded an almost palpable energy Friday night as the Moffat County High School cast of "Oklahoma!" prepared for their second performance.
In the middle of a crowded room filled with the scent of stage make-up and hairspray, seniors Tanya Rinehart, Emily Norris and Emily Hepworth sat together, singing in chorus as they curled their hair.
The three have bolstered each other's courage during auditions, rehearsals and opening nights for four years.
This weekend, the tradition came to an end.
Saturday marked the last musical performance for the three who have acted together in high school musicals since their freshman year. Planning to attend different colleges, their paths will soon separate.
Behind them lies a long friendship and a mutual interest in theater.
Every summer for the past four years, they waited for each year's musical, counting down the days until auditions and opening night. This summer, the three saw the Broadway musical, "Wicked," together.
"Emily (Norris), Tanya and I were so inspired by it," Hepworth said.
On sharing the lead role of Laurey in this year's musical with Rinehart, Hepworth added, "It's dignifying : to get such a part, to know so many friends."
An only child and the daughter of Kelly and Sarah Hepworth, she plans to study musical theater at either the University of Utah or the University of Wyoming.
She also intends to study astronomy.
"I really love science," she said. "It's something I've always been interested in."
Like her co-star, Rinehart intends to major in theater with an emphasis in education. She hopes to study musical theater at Emerson College, a performing arts school in Boston.
She started on her career path in fourth grade, when her mother, Debra Mack, took her to a stage acting class in Utah.
"She's been an actress since she was born," Mack said.
Rinehart is the youngest of five children. Her siblings are brothers Travis and Justin, and sisters Jessica and Judith.
Family also played a role in Norris' introduction to theater. Her brother, Ben, encouraged her to audition for the high school play as her rite of passage into high school.
Actually, he did more than encourage her.
"He said I had to," Norris said.
Unlike Hepworth and Rinehart, Norris doesn't want to study theater after graduation.
"It's not going to be like this - like high school," she said.
Instead, the daughter of Kim and Lee Norris plans to become a high school English teacher.
While the three seniors have finished their high school musicals, the last curtain has yet to fall on their stage careers.
They intend to audition for the high school spring play.
Still, performing in their last musical together was a bittersweet experience.
"We're all growing up and going on to our careers," Norris said. "We're going to be different people. The fact that we're all growing apart is hard to swallow."
Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org