Students bring energetic production of ‘Oklahoma!’ to the stage

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published November 12, 2014

 Members of the Royal Oak High School Drama Club rehearse for the upcoming production of “Oklahoma!”

Members of the Royal Oak High School Drama Club rehearse for the upcoming production of “Oklahoma!”

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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ROYAL OAK — Kristina Samborski’s love affair with classic musicals began as a child.

Samborski’s family didn’t have cable, so instead of watching the latest cartoons, the Royal Oak High School senior said she would avidly watch musicals. One of her favorites was “Oklahoma!”

“I used to watch it with my grandpa,” she said. “It’s the thing we used to do.”

Samborski’s grandpa is going to be in the audience Friday when she stars as Laurey in the Royal Oak High School Drama Club’s presentation of “Oklahoma!” Nov. 14-16 in the school’s auditorium, 1500 Lexington Blvd.

“We’re here to do something great, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Samborski said.

A cast and crew of about 70 students will present the musical based on Lynn Riggs’ play “Green Grow the Lilacs.” “Oklahama!” was the first collaboration of the award-winning team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, earning them the Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

The production stars Samborski as Laurey Williams, Mike Miller as Curley McLain, Jarod Clark as Will Parker, Kara Barbieri as “Ado” Annie Carnes, Grace Holcomb as Aunt Eller, and Deryk Nagengast as Jud Fry.

The production is directed by two generations of Royal Oak High School graduates, Ed Nahhat and Brittany Ward. Ward is the assistant director, and she choreographed the production.

Nahhat has served as the school’s drama coach since 2008 and produces the “Shakespeare in the Park” series. 

“‘Oklahoma!’ is an all-time favorite, and we’re doing it justice,” Nahhat said. “This particular show is a perfect fit for the kids.”

Nahhat said that although the production is a group effort involving parents, teacher advisors, drama boosters, past graduates and himself, on opening night — from the lights to the actors to the make-up to the live orchestra — it’s all students.

“I want these kids to produce their own shows when the curtain opens,” Nahhat said.

The production is the first time junior Nylia McMillan will serve as student stage manager.

“It’s been kind of eye-opening to what kind of a leader I am,” McMillan said. “But what I like most about being the stage manager is it’s my excuse to know everyone’s parts. It’s like watching a behind-the-scenes in movies.”

McMillan said her favorite part of the production is the dancing.

“I really think that it has a very personal storyline with the triangle, but it’s not one of those romances that is way out there,” McMillan said. “It’s a super-realistic storyline that really brings people in.”

Barbieri, the Drama Club president, hopes everyone at the school and in the community will come to the show.

“I’m loving it,” Barbieri said. “It’s so much fun, and the cast is great, and we have an awesome crew, and my character is really obnoxious.”

Barbieri said the musical will make everyone feel happy.

“All of the songs are really energetic and it is a really sweet story, and I think everyone will like it,” she said.

Performances are 7 p.m. Nov. 14-15 and 2 p.m. Nov. 16.

Tickets are $11 for adults and $6 for students, and may be purchased by visiting www.rodrama.com. Tickets also will be available at the door at a $1 discount for students and adults.

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