BYU Opens Production of ‘Oklahoma’

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    By Ashley McKell

    Musical sets used to involve people dressed in black moving large pieces of plywood and ceramic on and off the stage. BYU is broadening their horizons with a modern form of set design used in this month”s premier of Oklahoma!

    The play runs Wednesday through Feb. 3, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. Ticket prices are $14-$20, and attendees will see this new kind of set.

    The set began with an idea from director Tim Threlfall, involving panels as the backdrop, an idea that was taken to student scenic designer Jennifer Mortensen, a senior from Astoria, Ore. ,studying theater studies with an emphasis in scenic design.

    “I was asked to recreate the feel of what people already had toward this musical and make it original,” Mortensen said.

    With 22 panels on stage that needed to be moved around for the different scene changes, every hand in the cast is needed to hit placements on cue. The panels are covered in a theatrical material called scrim to produce a distinct form of lighting. Ashley Lane, a senior from Little Rock, Ark., studying theater art studies and stage manager for the play explained that when scrim is lit from the front it appears opaque to the audience, until a change in stage lighting makes it almost completely transparent. The audience will see anything that is lit behind the scrim.

    “The restrictions for using this type of set include how the scenery must come on and off the stage, making it a challenge to construct highly mobile panels that go from the ceiling to the floor,” Mortensen said. “With limited wing space this became a challenge that we were able to overcome.”

    The panels represent a concept of dreams with the sky. Everything on stage and beneath the panels symbolize a hard reality and the difficulties of survival. With a picture Mortensen found, she was able to recreate a sunset with bright colors that illuminate the stage as if the audience actually is on the plains in Oklahoma.

    “The lighting effects with the sunset are incredible. It adds a completely artistic effect,” Lane said.

    “We are honored to have the privilege of introducing another generation of theater patrons to the timeless truths of Oklahoma, one of the truly great classic works of the American musical theater,” Threlfall said.

    When: Wednesday through Feb. 3

    Where: de Jong Concert Hall Time: 7:30 p.m.

    Admission: $14-$20

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