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Theatre company to bring to life ‘Oklahoma!’

Karel Ancona-Henry
For the Nevada Appeal

Over the last 21 years, Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company has brought top flight performances to the community, thanks to the dedication of program director and founder Stephanie Arrigotti, whose latest offering is the American classic, “Oklahoma!” playing at the Carson City Community Center, weekends, May 6 through 15.

Opened originally in 1943, Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical, “Oklahoma!” garnered many awards and is credited with beginning the Golden Age of American musicals. The ever-popular songs have kept audiences singing long after the curtain has dropped.

Set in Oklahoma territory just after the turn of the last century, “Oklahoma!” tells the story of rivalry between local farmers and cowboys and of course, the love story between Curly, the handsome cowboy and his romantic interest, the beautiful farm girl, Laurey.

“For this performance, we have cast leads who are also very close friends and that chemistry is evident in the performance,” said Arrigotti, producer and director of the show. “While everyone in our company is close knit, I don’t ever remember casting a tight group of friends simultaneously.”

Leading the group is Lynette Brown as Laurey and James McDuffie as Curly. Their comic friends Ado Annie and Will Parker are played by Melody Ricketts and Thomas Fisk. Leoney Berg is the surly farmhand, Jud, Christopher Willson is the traveling peddler, Ali Hakim, and Carla Wilson is Aunt Eller.

An additional 45 performers complete the cast, accompanied by a 14-piece professional orchestra. Gina Kaskie-Davis is the choreographer.

Among the many songs to be performed are favorites “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” and “I Cain’t Say No,” all of which contributed to the original production receiving several Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.

Arrigotti’s theatre program has turned out numerous professional actors and stagehands, and contributed greatly to the arts, tourism and economy of the area.

“We routinely bring in busloads of visitors from San Francisco, specifically to see our shows and draw audience members from around the state,” Arrigotti said, “And have people from as far away as New York, plan their vacations to the area in conjunction with our performances.”

Western Nevada Musical Theatre’s production expenses are entirely self-supporting,with each show costing anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 to stage. These costs are offset by ticket sales.

WNC’s tentative budget reduction plan includes terminating Arrigoti’s position as a tenured professor and that of her assistant, effective June 2012.

She will be allowed to use the college facilites and the money raised for WNMTC, as long as she also can raise the money to pay her own salary and cover the box office.

“We have found that by keeping our ticket costs competitive while presenting quality productions, we’ve been able to create a loyal following, both locally and from across the United States,” Arrigotti said. “This, combined with the positive results I see in my students, both while in college and as they pursue professional careers in the arts, is incredibly satisfying.”

Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There is also a Saturday matinee, May 14 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $22 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors and $18 for youth 17 and younger. Season tickets also are available. Tickets can be purchased at Realty Executives, 1071 S. Carson St. or by calling (775) 445-4249. There is no service fee for charging by phone. For more information, visit wnmtc.com or call (775) 445-4249. Carson City Community Center is located at the corner of Roop Street and Highway 50 East.