(Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

March 15, 1999


 Bristol Central High School senior Crystal Bilodeau plays Laurey in "Oklahoma!" It will be her farewell performance.

Yeow! Central presents Oklahoma!

By Suzanne Gregorczyk
The Tattoo

If you've been through the auditorium at Bristol
Central High School lately, you might have seen some
tumbling tumbleweed or caught a glimpse of some
cowboys straight from the Old West.

Hallucinations? No, it's just the "Oklahoma!" fever
going around as the big opening night performance
draws ever closer.

"It's great coming to a new school and being part of a
cast that helps me build such great friendships," says
freshman Erika Tacchi about Bristol Central's
upcoming performance of "Oklahoma!" next month.

Footlights, Central's performing arts group,  is busy
preparing for the play which centers around Curly
(played by Matt Matrin), a good natured ranch hand;
Laurey Williams (Crystal Bilodeau),  the farmer's
daughter whom he loves; and the menacing Jud (Ben
Whelan), who tries to come between them. 

Set in the Oklahoma Territory in the early 1900s,
"Oklahoma!" is an idealized view of a simpler time,
and an upbeat, exciting version of frontier life in
the Old West.

It is the first collaboration of the famous duo Rodgers
& Hammerstein, and includes classics like "Oh what a
Beautiful Morning," "Kansas City," and the title song

The play, which runs for three shows from April 9 to
11, wasn't at all easy to put together, according to cast

"You work and you work. You can't just go to
rehearsal and automatically expect to know your
lines." says junior Matt Martin. 

The cast, which includes 42 students, puts in endless
effort to make a flawless final product. Each actor is
expected to put in 10 hours of rehearsal time every
week for 10 weeks.

"I like being able to explore the characters with the
smaller casts, but with the larger casts you get to see
the more technical side of theater," said director Jim

The large cast is a far cry from Central's last play,
which only called for 10 actors, but most feel the extra
effort required to work with such a large cast is worth

"Bigger casts make for a better play" said senior Frank
Curtin, part of the chorus.

Junior Meric Martin, who plays the cowboy Will, said,
"I like it better with a larger cast because there's more
energy and more people to work off of."

But then there are others who are just happy to have
the opportunity to be in a play at all.

"I'd rather have a small cast because of the unity
among the group. Also each actor has a bigger chance
of being in the spotlight," said freshman Erin Gauvin,
who will make her debut with Footlights in

"But that doesn't mean that I'm not thrilled to be in a
big cast like 'Oklahoma!'" Gauvin added. "I am."

On the other hand, there are several who will be
graduating in a few months, making "Oklahoma!" their
farewell performance.

Senior Crystal Bilodeau's performance in "Oklahoma!"
is her sixth play at Central. She said working with the
school's performing arts department over the years has
been a privilege because the group is "very
professional and you learn a lot."

Actors said they like the diverse group involved in the
spring musical.

 "I love being in this play because there are so many
people, especially underclassmen, that I get to know
and work with that I wouldn't get to know otherwise,"
said senior Melanie Houle.

The actors all agree on one thing: they can't wait for
opening night.

"I could never imagine getting along so well with a
group of people," said technical manager Joel Rydel.
"Everybody comes together to achieve one goal and
although we're all very different, it's the greatest
feeling when it's done."

"Oklahoma!" shows are Friday, April 9 and Saturday,
April 10 at 8 p.m., and at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 10 in
the school auditorium.

Ticket costs are $9 for adults and $7 for students and
seniors. They are on sale beginning March 15 at Ink
Spot Printing ,43 Middle St. in Bristol, and in the
BCHS lobby from 6 to 9 p.m. every Monday.

Click here to see Bristol Central High School's Footlights home page (featuring its drama department)