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Apres moi...

Journalist. Malcontent. Cutie-pie. Worry-wart.

Me and my bench in Oklahoma!

This week, on my journey through Oklahoma! at Shelby High School, I’ve been to rehearsals and gotten in on “blocking.”
Blocking is the term used to indicate what movements an actor makes on stage. So far, my blocking consist of sitting on a bench, sitting on a bench while laughing and sitting on a bench while gasping in fear.
I’m not complaining. Seriously, you should see what everyone else is doing. A good chunk of the cast is being ‘blocked’ in a rather intricate square dance. Shame on Hollywood and television for fueling the misconception that dance numbers can be spontaneous responses to stimuli. Random groups of people never break out into song and dancing, folks, just isn’t as easy as it looks.
That’s not to say the students aren’t doing a stellar job, because they are.
Another set of actors just ‘blocked’ a fight scene. I won’t ruin the details for you but after a few hiccups, the whole scene really does look like somebody just got their lights punched out.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget this is a high school musical. The acting can blow you away…the affected accents can be dead on…choreography can be perfect.
But, at the end of the day, it is a bunch of high school students.
And that’s where Steve Padgett comes in. Padgett exerts just the right amount authority when handing down instruction. He is not an iron hammer but an oracle of sorts. People listen because he’s just so often right.
The students themselves seem to respond to his temperament. From my perch on my trusty, familiar bench, I’ve watched student-actors take instruction, heads bent in conference with Padgett. When they emerge from this huddle, each take their places ready to do what has to be done. The dedication and the delight are already apparent.
By Thursday, we had done blocking for the entire second act. (I’m happy to report I have sitting on a bench down to an art. A very subtle art.) Though I’m still not up on the music — that starts next week, for me — I feel less like an interloper.
All the students have been welcoming. Perhaps it isn’t unique to the ‘drama crowd’ but there is always someone ready to make you laugh. Funny voices, clever comebacks, elaborate pratfalls — all are available in the arsenals of these students. And they’re not afraid to use them.
Just don’t get caught laughing on stage…
Check out video of rehearsals (dancing and fighting!) under video section of shelbystar.com.

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