Community members participate in 'Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella' musical

A vibrant group of individuals is coming together to bring a timeless tale to life onstage. Among them are two community members who are set to take center stage in the upcoming theatre production of the "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" musical presented by the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Reichenberger Department of Fine Arts. It began Thursday and continues through Saturday.

These two community members just happen to be sisters living in Alva: Raye Lyn Bird and JoDe Bradt.

Bird will be stepping into the role of Marie.

"I have enjoyed learning the music," Bird said. "The music is fabulous. Music is my thing. I play piano and lead worship every Sunday at my church. Learning my lines has been a little more of a challenge for me, but it's coming together. I have loved working with Dr. (Karsten) Longhurst and Professor (Kimberly) Weast."

Bradt is stepping into the role of Madame.

"Rehearsals are good!" Bradt said. "Last Monday was so much fun when Professor Weast pulled in her friend Greg White to work specifically with choreography on the solos, duets and smaller groups. We've got a lot to accomplish before opening night, but when it all comes together, it's going to be really good. Everyone is working so hard."

Both sisters, originally from Waynoka, are no strangers to Northwestern.

Bird attended Northwestern for two years double-majoring in instrumental and vocal music. She and her now husband Skeeter left Alva in 1985 after Skeeter graduated from Northwestern. She later earned a business management degree from Kansas State. The couple returned to Alva in 2005 after Skeeter spent 20 years in the Army. He currently is the chief executive officer of the Northwestern Foundation and Alumni Association.

Bradt, who works with her husband Jerad (2005 graduate) at Bradt's Menagerie petting zoo west of Alva and serves as the Wesley House director, earned a speech/theatre degree from Northwestern in 2001 under Dr. Linda Stewart. She said that being in this production takes her back to her college days in the Northwestern theatre.

"My favorite musical back then was '1940s Radio Hour' when my husband and I started dating," Bradt said. "I love that it comes full circle, as he is running the sound for the musical. Aside from the nostalgia, I love getting to know the college students and other community members in the production better."

Bird said that she chose to participate in "Cinderella" after being in the past musical "The Music Man."

"It was so fun!" Bird said. "I made new connections with other community members and loved getting to know the students and forming relationships with them. Last time, I didn't actually audition. This time, I auditioned on a whim as a way to challenge myself after my youngest daughter graduated from NWOSU last year and got married this past fall. I never dreamed I would be cast in a primary role, but it has been very rewarding."

Both sisters' lives extend beyond rehearsals and their performances onstage.

"I am a high school teacher in Burlington, so I go home tired every day," Bird said. "But the rehearsals energize me. The only problem is going home at 9 p.m. after rehearsal and singing the songs in my head all night long."

Bird also said that as a teacher she wants her students to challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones and do something new.

"Being a part of this production has made me realize that sometimes as adults we need to do the same thing to increase our experience, education, emotional connection with others, and enjoyment in doing something new."

As for Bradt, she said that rehearsals and memorizing lines for the musical have added a lot more to her day, but she is making it work.

"We all have the same 24 hours in a day," Bradt said. "We can choose what we put into it. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up."

As for what Bradt is looking forward to with this production, she said it's the great comical one-liners from her character Madame and her daughters (the step-sisters).

"Singing with Emily (Smith), Rylee (Ott), and Brooklyn (Parker) in 'A Lovely Night' is my favorite moment of the musical," Bradt said. "I think the community is going to love the musical!"

Bird said she is looking forward to seeing everything come together in terms of the music, story line, costumes, choreography and the orchestra.

"So far, we've just seen bits and pieces of the story," Bird said. "Everyone thinks they know the story of Cinderella, but the storyline to this particular production is so great. It has humor, challenges, drama, empowerment and excitement. It's going to be a fun show!"

Tickets for this production may be purchased online at https://bit.ly/43AUFV8. General admission is $15, university employees are $10, and students with a current ID are $5. Show times are 7 p.m. on April 18-19 and 2 p.m. on April 20.

For more information on theatre performances and courses in the Department of Fine Arts at Northwestern, contact Kimberly Weast, professor of theatre arts and chair of the department, at 580-327-8462 or [email protected] or see more info at http://www.nwosu.edu/fine-arts.

 

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