Russellville Arts Council Presents Oklahoma! as successful team effort
By Donna Wilkerson

Posted on July 17, 2019 7:30 AM


Students from Russellville and Logan County recently participated in a week-long drama camp that culminated in three public performances of the musical, Oklahoma! Based on a 1931 play by Lyon Riggs entitled Green Grow the Lilacs, the musical adaptation focuses on farm girl Laurey Williams (played by Katie Ray Holloman) and her two rival suitors, Curly (play by Sammy Henley) and Jud (played by Aaron Cunningham).

 Laurey’s neighbor, Ado Annie (played by Emma Grace Gwynette), also has two suitors competing for her attention: farm boy Will (played by Joshua Lawrence) and peddler Ali (played by Josh Proctor). The sage Aunt Eller (played by Keyleigh Harlan) presides over the resulting shenanigans as a variety of friends, neighbors, and townspeople attend a pie auction, a dance, a fight, and, ultimately, a wedding.

Rounding out the Oklahoma! cast were Elijah Corbin, Lucy Graves, Chrys Avila, Allyson Thomas, Jennifer Wilkerson, Teresa Avila, Graciann Beard, Carolina Gwynette, Bailey Howell, Lily Buffa, Gracie Langley, Patience Sanchez, Alison Moore, Brylie Person, Isadora Perez, Leah Buffa, Abigail Brown, Na’Khyla Duncan, Kilby Long, Lizzie Langley, Taylor Gwynette, Paul Quincy Perez, and Lane Bibb.

In addition to singing, dancing, and acting, drama camp students made many new friends. The annual camp sponsored by the Russellville Arts Council blends together Russellville and Logan County students, as well as a few students who are home-schooled or attend school in an adjoining county. While some of the students are acquainted through other extracurricular activities, the time spent in drama camp is unique because, rather than competing on rival teams, students from different schools work together to collaborate on a production of which everyone can be proud.

During the week, students also learned some history (Oklahoma was still a territory at the time the musical is set), some interesting trivia (Oklahoma! was the first show written by legendary musical collaborators Rodgers and Hammerstein, winning a special Pulitzer Prize and enjoying at least six revivals, including a 2019 Broadway revival), and some important life facts: retired folks and teachers on “summer vacation” sometimes put in more hours than those who go to a regular job every day, and volunteers can make priceless contributions to the community.

Speaking of creatively inspired, hard-working, and tireless volunteers, Russellville Arts Council president, Larry Vaught (a retired music teacher) served as director of the production. This year marks almost a decade of summer musical productions under Mr. Vaught’s capale direction; other productions have included School House RockAladdinCinderellaThe Music ManBeauty & the BeastSuessical the MusicalJungle Book, and The Lion King (he has also helped with Logan County middle school and high school productions).

Russellville High School assistant band director Trevor Cardwell served as music director, and drama camp alumnus Sarah Brown was the choreographer. RHS art teacher Chris Holloman worked his always-impressive artistic magic, turning the deGraffenried Auditorium stage into a farm in rural Oklahoma at the turn of the century. Costume director Rebecca Gwynette worked with MCTI Theater in Greenville and others to provide appropriate costuming (cowboy boots, hats, and lots of flannel shirts for the boys and prairie dresses, long skirts, and aprons for the girls) to transform contemporary middle and high school students into 1906 farmers, ranchers, and townspeople.

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