Apr. 10—The stages of Enid High School will come alive next week with the sound of some of America's most iconic music.
A districtwide professional development day meant no school Friday, but students rehearsed "The Sound of Music" all day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the day after a full orchestra had been added to the mix in the high school's auditorium.
Curtains are set to rise next weekend on the spring show, which will be EHS' first musical with a live orchestra since another Rodgers and Hammerstein original, "Oklahoma!" was staged in 2004.
"It's a high school production," its director, Linda Outhier, said proudly, enunciating each word, "right down the music, and I love that. ... My classes built the set. Our students are playing the music. That's cool!"
Rehearsals began two and a half months ago in late-January once named cast members were announced. Dozens more students from the high school's show choir and vocal choir classes joined the show, and the orchestra began learning music a month ago. Stagecraft class students designed backdrops and sets.
Outhier said she and her music directors, Matt and Randy Johnson, began rehearsing the show so early partly because of the difficulty scheduling rehearsals with students involved in other activities.
"It feels like we've been rehearsing it for a long time because we have," Outhier said.
The musical comes at the tail-end of a difficult time for performing arts at the high school.
While EHS' fall play saw student cast members leaving for two weeks at a time due to COVID-19, the high school's winter musical, "White Christmas," was canceled outright last November once the school and the entire Enid Public Schools district went to all-distance learning.
Junior Jersey Garrett was set to play the lead in that musical.
This time playing the central role of Maria — the postulant-turned-stepmother who loves twirling on mountaintops, singing about female deer and dreaming of raindrops on roses — Jersey joked she's the face of the spring show.
Being a lead with 50-70 children ... What's so fearsome about that?
"There's definitely a lot on my shoulders, but I wouldn't be able to do it without everyone else," Jersey said. "It is scary because there a lot of things that could fall apart ... but for the most part it's just super exciting for me."
It's an answer very in character for the sunny-sweet part originated by Mary Martin on stage in 1959 and then Julie Andrews on film in 1965.
A drama student who's also sung at All-State all three years of high school, Jersey sings around half of the show's iconic score.
Outhier said she often sits in the back of the 1,300-person auditorium singing along to the music, which includes songs such as "My Favorite Things," "The Lonely Goatherd" and that title song.
Maria has specific stage directions in the latter number.
"You have to spin! You have to spin!" Outhier said, expecting many audience members to have just as vivid memories of the original film's opening scene of Andrews atop the Swiss Alps.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein have continued to reign supreme in pop culture in the half century since the musical debuted on Broadway and introduced a handful of standards to the American Songbook.
It was the last production the two wrote — Hammerstein died nine months after it opened.
The film version, after a 4 1/2-year theatrical release and subsequent re-releases, garnered a second life airing annually on NBC in the late-'70s for 20 years.
In 2019, Ariana Grande's song "7 Rings," which interpolates the melody of "My Favorite Rings" in its verses, gave Rodgers and Hammerstein their first No. 1, and 90% of the single's royalties went to their publishing company.
"I love each and every song. I came in knowing a good portion of these songs anyways," Jersey said. "And I get to sing songs that also a ton of other people know, too, so it's like karaoke night.
"No, I'm just kidding — no one sings along with me. I'm gonna be like, 'All right, all right, stop, redo!'" she said laughing for a moment. "That's also pressure too, because then I can't mess up because (audiences) will be like, 'Oh I know that's not right.'"
"The Sound of Music" opens next April 17 and runs through the week after.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 17, 20 and 22, and 2:30 p.m. April 18.
Admission is $8 for student and $12 for adults. Tickets can purchased at the door or by calling Outhier at (580) 366-8511.
Social distancing and masks will be required in the EHS auditorium.
Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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