Toni Gardner and Augustine "Gus" Glazov play Laurie and Curly, respectively in Seton Hall University's production of Oklahoma!, set to premiere at SOPAC on Thursday, April 20 at 8 p.m.
Seton Hall University's Theatre Department is getting ready to take audiences back to 1907, when the just recently chartered Oklahoma Territory was set to become the 46th state of the United States.
Oklahoma! is the College of Communication and the Art's annual staging of a spring musical. The show will premiere on Thursday, April 20, at South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange. Seton Hall University's Theatre Program, as part of the Seton Hall University Arts Council, will present the show free to the public the entire weekend of Thursday, April 20, at 8 p.m.; Friday, April 21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 22, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m.
Seniors Augustine "Gus" Glazov and Toni Gardner as well as sophomores David Gluck and Tess Borsecnik will lead the performance as star-crossed couples from rival Oklahoman factions: the farmers and the cowboys.
The musical will also feature dancing, singing and acting from Lauren Mangine, Chad Navarro, Tia Robbins, William Moore, Jordan Green, Nicholas Zeitlinger, Lexington Fils, James Maglione, Andrew Cates, Peter Lamendola, Sarah Clifford, Melanie Weir, Anna Carpenter, Taji Steele, Avery Bachman-Rhodes and Samantha Dyar.
From left to right: Tia Robbins, James Maglione, Andrew Cates, Lexington Fils, Nicholas Zeitlinger, Peter Lamendola, and Dave Gluck.
Though this is Gus and Toni's last spring musical at Seton Hall, it certainly isn't the least, as both would agree that the show has been a highlight of their theatrical careers.
"I've fallen in love with Oklahoma! The music is beautiful, the dancing is beyond exciting, and it's a thrill to be a part of such a talented, friendly, and magnificent cast," said Gus, senior philosophy major, who plays Curly.
"Being a part of Oklahoma! and having the opportunity to work with so many of the people with whom I've made such great friendships has been incredible," senior social work major Toni, who plays Laurie, added. "The production staff is phenomenal and they are true experts of the field who treat us like professionals… something I feel is so important for young, aspiring actors."
Janeece Freeman Clark who directs the musical and has a host of Broadway and Off-Broadway acting credits herself, has even felt so inspired by the dedication of the cast, as to include a select group of the actors in her theatre company, Vanguard Theater's Broadway Buddy Mentorship program. The aspiring performers have been paired up with and are currently being mentored by a current or former professional stage actor. This program, in part sponsored by Seton Hall University's Theatre Department, will culminate in another student performance with their "Broadway Buddy" mentors, at SOPAC on Monday May 1 at 7 p.m.
"Every director's ideal scenario is to work with a group of actors who aren't afraid to take risks and fully commit to the process," Clark said, "I couldn't have asked for a harder working or more enthusiastic cast as each of them bring something new and interesting to the rehearsal room each day."
From left to right: Avery Bachman-Rhodes, Anna Carpenter, Sarah Clifford, Samantha Dyar, Taji Steele, and Toni Gardner.
"Coming to rehearsals is one of the highlights of my day," Elisa Van Duyne, a veteran of the "Great White Way" and choreographer of the show, said. "This vibrant, energetic cast has made the classic production of Oklahoma! uniquely their own and I can't wait to experience it in performance."
"Working with and for these incredible people as dance captain has been the highlight of my freshman year," said freshman and dance captain Avery Bachman-Rhodes. She is a member of the cast who is at times placed in charge of choreography rehearsals. "Finding a group of people who have a common drive and desire to create, express, and live through theatre is truly something out of my dreams."
"There's kissing; there's fist fights; there's comedy," Van Duyne added, "Oklahoma has it all, so come see for yourself."
While the show is free, tickets are in high demand for each night, so it is suggested that audiences reserve their tickets in advance. For more information on ticketing, please visit South Orange Performing Arts Center's box office website for Seton Hall University's production of Oklahoma! here.
Categories: Arts and Culture