In blogging about the past and dredging up my days in my high school drama department I knew that I was running a very real risk. Last night, and today, I am suffering the consequences. Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma I typed and the ear worms burrowed.
I fucking hate having songs from Oklahoma stuck in my head. While I remember the process of being the assistant director to our school's production of it, I have successfully blocked most of the actual show, scenes, and songs.
I don't care if the farmer and the cowboy can be friends, if they get stuck in my head then they can both go fuck themselves. Farmer/Cowboy slash....mmmm...I'll give credit where it is due, Rebecca J, our director, was good at casting hot sporty boys.
So, this blog is brought to you by the letter Ooooooooooooooooooooklahoma.
At my school, the big musical was held first semester and the big play was second semester. Being asked to be the assistant director (based on my work students directing peers in some one-act plays my Junior/3rd year of HS) of the big musical meant that I was in a one-student independent study class with Rebecca J the first semester of my Senior (4th and final) year. Independent study with Rebecca was rather unstructured and what needed to be done depended on the schedule of show prep and performances. We also talked a lot about theories behind how to direct and guide actors, I don't remember much of it. The start of the semester was slow and our final exam was spent going out for morning buns at Ovens of Brittany bakery/cafe.
Independent study had some serious perks. I had my own desk in the drama department. Department is a fancy word for the room next to the drama room, a room that also had misc costumes, a few couches, a TV and a video collection. It had a bedazzler. I still regret not stealing that bedazzler. I had my own phone with which to place random calls to my then boyfriend...who wasn't in high school. Rebecca had given me a pile of hall passes, all pre-signed, to use at my discretion.I had my own copy code for the faculty copy machine. Rebecca was an overweight woman with a bad knee, and the drama area was in a side tower of the school up a few flights of stairs, so I was the copy-girl.
These odd perks may have been why a few younger students and some student teachers, believed me to be a student teacher assigned to the drama department.
I used those hall passes to escape study halls and the business class I had signed up for and would sleep on the drama couch. I used the phone to see if I should head over to my boyfriend's place after school, or to leave him amusing messages (his company had downsized and he was job hunting while enjoying the severance pay) And I used my copy code to...well...make copies.
Oklahoma was a behemoth of musical. I've mentioned that I never appeared in a major school production, which is true. WHo knows if the fact that I was never in a school play was due to a dearth of talent on my part, the glut of talent in the school, or politics. I can only speculate...but there was no mystery to me not being in a musical.
One of my Facebook friends, one who was actually in the background cast for Oklahoma, remembers a fine performance as a saloon girl I turned in in Guys and Dolls. He wrote on my Facebook wall about it. I had to break the news to him that his memory was going, I was in no musicals, ever...but that, yes, I was the girl who broke him of the habit of calling the females dancers "hootchie-cootchi la-la-las"
It's not that I can't sing. My singing was probably passable, but I couldn't audition to save my life. Over the years I've come to understand what my singing range is and that I can be an entertaining singer in my range. In high school I not only thought that I should be singing songs 1-2 octaves above what is realistic for me (I am firmly in the Liza Minelli/Cabaret range and seemed to think I should be singing little boy songs from Oliver) I also suffered from stage fright. Song-specific stage fright. I would get on stage, the pianist would start, and my mouth would open, only to emit a high pitched noise only certain mammals can hear. Once I got past that point, I tweaked and freaked and squeaked and poor Oliver's song sounded like the wee lad was hitting puberty and that puberty was hitting him back.
The choreography portion of the audition, or the monologue, not an issue! It didn't bloody matter by then. Week and freak...that does it. And my high school was filthy with good voices.
The auditions for Oklahoma lasted two days. We cast 67 kids, two had to drop out. We had a professional choreographer from the local theater scene (who also danced as the male lead in the ballet scene, because our female dancer was worlds more pro/talented than any male we could cast) and a set designer from the local scene.
Our public school took art very seriously. Every year we had a fine arts week to exhibit the whole range of art: gallery shows, demonstrations, one act plays, music and dance recitals, bands, pottery auctions...
Our male lead, Keith, had been competing in international barbershop quartet competitions since age 4. Our female lead was an innocent and soft (dare I say virginal?) Amanda P...who some of my friends list have worked with professionally....it was that sort of school. And Rebecca was also good about colorblind casting.
The spurned Jacob was also in the cast, as Jud. And I'd like to state for the record that the fact that my father and stepfamily erupted in mad giggles during his solo had nothing to do with who he was to me...they couldn't help it and apologized to me later. There is a reason that that Jud's song is usually omitted...and no amount of holding his arms away from his body at odd angles was going to make Jacob's 2% body-fat build look bulky and imposing.
Oklahoma was not a small affair. We would be performing on the school stage two weekends in a row (3 shows a weekend?) and then dismantling the set and moving the cast/crew/orchestra (120 students total) to a nearby city to be the one high school presenting a full-production at a statewide high school drama thingy in La Crosse (the other full plays being presented by local theaters, and the other schools restricted to one-act plays).
The first thing we did with the cast, once assembled, was a night of watching the goddamned Oklahoma movie so that we could discuss what would and would not be the same in our rendition. Rebecca made me the chaperone of this event and fled the scene. Coward.
There was drama and there was drama.