By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
WEST PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth West Middle School (grades 5-8) this weekend is preforming “Getting to Know Oklahoma!” at the middle school. The production is an abridged version of the original Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” that opened on Broadway in 1943.
“It’s not as long, and it takes out the content that’s kind of more adult,” said West Middle School Music and Choir Teacher, and show director Sonja Thompson.
Thirty-one students are participating in the show, including 29 on-stage cast members. Thompson said the dance numbers have been very challenging, and many of the students have never danced before; but she has been very impressed with the quality of singers in this group of middle school students.
“We have had more rehearsals for this than we have ever had before, and they have been very good. They’ve shown up and work really hard,” Thompson said.
Some of the students already have some experience preforming on stage. Seventh-grader Caitlin Russell has performed in plays at her church, but this is her first time on stage with her school. In the school’s show, Russell plays Laurey Williams, who falls in love with a cowboy named Curly McLain.
“It’s pretty fun. It’s a lot better than I thought it would be,” she said. “It was difficult in the beginning, but now that we’ve rehearsed so much, I think I’ve got it down.”
Her on-stage romance will be played by seventh grader Adam Lucas. He already has some acting experience, performing in shows at the Portsmouth Little Theatre and the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.
For other students, this is their first time performing.
Austin Kammer, an eighth-grader at Portsmouth West Middle, plays Will Parker.
“He (Parker) gets back from Kansas City, and he finds out that the girl he’s after, Ado Annie, has been kissing any guy that will kiss her, and she’s taken up with the peddler, and Will is trying to win her back,” Kammer said.
He said he has always enjoyed chorus and musicals, and he’s having fun performing in his first show.
“I’m a little nervous, but I think it will turn out good,” Kammer said.
“Getting to Know Oklahoma!” opens at 8 p.m. Friday at the Portsmouth West Middle School, and plays again at the school at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students, and will be sold at the door.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.