TEMPLE TERRACE — The musical “Oklahoma!,” a legendary smash hit on Broadway by Pulitzer Prize winners Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, is coming to town.
Performances are slated to take place at 7 p.m. July 25 and 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. July 26 in Florida College’s Hutchinson Auditorium, 119 N. Glen Arven Ave.
While the show will feature the same familiar cast of characters and such recognizable songs as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,’” and “People Will Say We’re in Love,” preparations for the production are different from nearly any other production.
Produced by the nonprofit Chandler Family Corporation for the Fine Arts under the name of Broadway Comes to Camp, the actors, costume creators, set designers and makeup artists come together just nine days prior to the play’s opening show.
Producer/director Royce Chandler, a graduate and former administrator at the school — which has no affiliation with the production other than providing the place for rehearsals, set building and the performances — requires cast members to memorize their lines and song lyrics in advance of arriving on campus.
“We build and paint the sets, arrange costumes, plan makeup, learn choreography, etc., all in a span of seven and a half days,” said Chandler, a resident of Temple Terrace.
His wife, Hope, helps him with the months of advanced planning that are needed to have everything pertaining to the play fall smoothly into place. Hope is also a graduate and former employee of Florida College who, along with Royce, directed summer camps for about 20 years in an effort to recruit new students to the school.
The upcoming show is the third in the annual Broadway Comes to Camp productions, and its participants, many of whom also graduated from Florida College, hail from 16 states.
“We are blessed with such talent in our casts that many who see the shows marvel at the level of professionalism in a cast of all amateurs,” Royce said.
For the third year, Nancy Picogna, a 1977 Florida College graduate who lives in Cullman, Ala., will be coming along with her husband, Greg, and their daughter Laura Gonzalez. Gonzalez, from Perth Amboy, N.J., is the third of their three daughters to also graduate from the school.
Nancy will work behind the scenes while her husband and daughter perform in the cast.
“The thing that brings us back is the quality of the people. We’re all Christ lovers,” she said. “It’s also because Royce does some amazing work.”
Brandon resident Crystal Crawford, who has known the Chandlers since early childhood, is also returning along with her husband, Jason, a Florida College graduate. This is the third consecutive year they’ve been in the cast.
“It’s just extremely well organized and the Chandlers put in an extraordinary amount of work,” she said. “If you come, I think you will be very impressed.”
To buy tickets, which are priced at $15 each, visit www.broadwaycomes tocamp.com or call (209) 690-7469. Reserve seats are available on a first-call, first-served basis.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at email@example.com.