Oklahoma! Theater!

MCHS students audition for musical

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Some of them started in church choir. Some of them had siblings in church choir. Some of them did Shakespeare in fifth- and sixth-grade.

And some of them just like to sing in their car.

They were Moffat County High School students trying out Sept. 5 and 6 for roles in Rogers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!," this year's musical scheduled to take the stage toward the end of the fall semester.

Not everyone there was trying out because theatre is their life, but instead because it would be something fun to do after school.

Take John Strahan, a 17-year-old junior. He's done some Shakespeare - "MacBeth" and "Twelfth Night" - but not since he was in elementary school. It's not that he didn't like it, Strahan said. It's just that he had other interests, but now his interest for theatre has been piqued.

"I was just never really ready to do it," he said. "Now it's a good year to get back into it. I remember it's just fun. You hang out with friends, mess around."

Being frightened of the stage does not bother him, he said. Despite his unabashed confidence there, Strahan said he won't go out for a lead role.

"I don't know if I could pull that off," he said. "I don't know if this is something I really want to pursue, but it is fun."

For the students' auditions, they select one song (any song), then do a line. The high school music director, Sean Teets, then finds the students' vocal range by having them sing along with his piano.

Strahan is going to sing "How to Save a Life" by The Fray.

Hey, Strahan, have you ever sung that song in your car?

"Probably a few times, yes."

Last year, the high school staged "Beauty and the Beast." From The Beast to The Coat Hanger, they professed only fond memories of late nights with friends, meeting new and interesting people and the good process of creation.

"It's everything really," said David McClellan, a 2007 MCHS graduate who played Beast and is now ready to start college at Brigham Young University in Vicksburg, Idaho. ""Musicals and stuff have a special air about them that other productions don't have.

"There's something addictive about theatre. People look to create something they can't do by themselves."

McClellan has two younger sisters and a younger brother auditioning for "Oklahoma!," and he was at the high school, days before leaving for college, to provide moral support and see some friends he's leaving behind.

Last year's Coat Hanger, Clarissa Langstaff, 15, isn't afraid of auditions, performing, or whether or not she gets a big part or a small part.

"I'm gonna try for a regular or Ado Annie," Langstaff said. "A regular is just supporting and Ado Annie is one of the mains."

Similar to McClellan and Strahan, Langstaff's appreciation of theatre is hard to put into words.

"I love theatre. It's amazing," she said. "You meet new friends, have great opportunities, lots of fun. It's amazing, what more is there to say?"

For her audition, Langstaff plans to sing "Getting to Know You" from "The King and I," also a Rogers and Hammerstein musical.

She said she is not new to singing and exhibits the kind of care-free bravado that could make someone believe she'll give it her all onstage.

"I sing along to any music that's on the radio," Langstaff said. "55 Country, 93.7, whatever."

She's looking forward to "Oklahoma!" even if it's not a contemporary production.

"I really like the theme. I think it brings out the Craig-past tense kind of thing," she said.

Of the 40 to 50 students who auditioned, this was the first year Amy Pottinger, MCHS theatre teacher, had a sizable number of students who had never done anything related to stage productions before.

"Which is great," Pottinger said. "There's been more willing to try it. The whole purpose for theatre and the speech team is for those kids that think, 'Nah, I don't really wanna do anything with sports.' We give them an avenue."

Pottinger is looking forward to putting on a play without a lot of psychological baggage. "Oklahoma!" is a straightforward, relatable story that can have broad appeal.

"I think everyone should be in a play once in their lives," Pottinger said. 'Oklahoma!' "is just fun for fun's sake. It's guys being guys, and girls being girls.

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