By Marianne Mueller, REPORTER

Spotlight Youth Theater Rockford Metro is ready to take the stage of Hononegah High School’s Performing Arts Center this coming weekend. Under the Direction of Clarissa Johnson, a cast of 58 youth will tell the classic story of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma.” This classic first collaboration remains, in many ways, their most innovative! Set in a Western Indian Territory just after the turn of the century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. Although the road to true love never runs smooth, with these two headstrong romantics holding the reins, love’s journey is as bumpy as a surrey ride down a country road. Catchy songs such as “Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful Day” will help to set the scene as the story plays out. Noah Hill is transforming into Curly. How does this role differ from those that Hill has played in the past?  “Playing Curly in ‘Oklahoma’ is being part of one of the first shows to really make musical theater what it is today,” says Hill. “It is different and very fun to sort of ‘go back to the roots’ so to speak.” Hill has appeared in 25 shows with Spotlight Theater. “I love working with everyone in the cast and crew. Ellen Adkins as Laurey is fantastic; it is always fun working with her. Playing against Luke Primrose as Jud is a wonderful privilege. I have always wanted to have more stage time with him and now we get to fight. On the other end of the spectrum, Collin Niggeman (Will Parker) and Myriah Saunders (Ado Annie) have an amazing chemistry on stage which makes them a treat and delight to watch. Hill’s favorite song would most likely have to be ‘Surrey with the Fringe on Top.’ I just get to goof around and have fun which is what I enjoy doing the most,” said Hill.

Playing opposite of Hill is Ellen Adkins who is portraying Laurey Williams. “I have had the opportunity to play a lot of different and diverse roles; but like all of them, they always have a different and unique kind of story,” says Adkins. “Laurey is very independent and doesn’t like to show her vulnerable side. She can also be a big baby. Whenever she does, she quickly picks herself back up. She is one of those people who will bottle up their feelings and emotions until it becomes too much; and then she will spill on anyone who is around her during that time. She does not like to be seen as anything but strong.” Adkins has been in Spotlight productions for the past four years and has had roles in five shows. “What I enjoy most about this production is getting to perform with my friends which are the highlight of my week.  I am very grateful to have such an amazing group of friends who are so talented, hardworking and fun.” 

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Herald. A 58-member cast is ready to take the stage in Spotlight Theater's production of “Oklahoma!” This stunning show is heading to the Hononegah High School Performing Arts Center stage this weekend.

A 58-member cast is ready to take the stage in Spotlight Theater’s production of “Oklahoma!” This stunning show is heading to the Hononegah High School Performing Arts Center stage this weekend.

“As an actress one of the biggest challenges in this production is to always remember the motive of Laurey; which is to eventually have Curly. There is a lot going on in this musical as far as relationships and conflicts go. It can sometimes be hectic keeping everything together. I love all of the connections in the show and how everything is so important and plays a key part in the show. This directing team is so unique and helpful,” lauds Adkins. “This is my third time working and being directed by Claire, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Her love and passion for the show and what she does shine through in her directing. I have also worked with Sharon a couple of times before. She teaches choreography like nobody’s business and makes sure you understand it before she moves on. The whole directing team is just fabulous. They each have their own vision for the show. When it is put together it is a beautiful thing. They are all so inspiring, intelligent and uplifting. I love each and every one of them!” Adkins expresses an extended thank you to Area Coordinator, Christy Dayton and to all of the parent volunteers who help to make the show possible. “We could not do it without them.”

Luke Primrose is no stranger to the stage. He is playing the pivotal role of Jud Fry. “Jud is emotionless, cold hearted, short tempered and selfish, and is the villain of the show,” shares Primrose. “He is definitely a different role for me. I usually play more of the fun, happy-go-lucky characters. Jud is the exact opposite. ‘Oklahoma’ is different because it goes to dark places. It is an emotionally light show. It is even somewhat emotionally taxing for me and other actors due to its intensity.” “My favorite part of this musical is working alongside my best friend Noah Hill who plays Curly. In the show we are enemies but off the stage nothing can separate us. He is my very best friend; he is always there for me through the good and the bad. Working with him is a real treat.”

Behind the scenes are key production team members: Assistant Director- Kyle O’Mara, Vocal Director- Eric Walker, Choreographer- Sharon Kively and Production Coordinator- Christy Dayton.

Show times are Friday Nov. 18 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2 and 6 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. on Nov. 20.

Visit or call the box office at (847) 516-2298 to obtain tickets. Group, child and senior prices are available. Take a trip to “Oklahoma” with talented actors of Spotlight Youth Theater!


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