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Wall High School students to debut musical ‘Oklahoma!’ next week

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Junior Tess Marsh and senior Chris Corcoran will lead the cast of Wall High School's production of

Junior Tess Marsh and senior Chris Corcoran will lead the cast of Wall High School’s production of “Oklahoma!” as Laurey and Curly. The musical will premiere next Thursday, with performances also scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Photo by SUEANNE GOSS, STAR NEWS GROUP

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Performances scheduled for March 21, 22 & 23 at the high school

By Shannon Connelly

WALL TOWNSHIP — It’s almost showtime at Wall High School.

And this week, theater and vocal director Ellen Hollander and her cast were holding their final rehearsals for “Oklahoma!,” set to open next week for a three-night run.

Everyone it takes to make the musical a success — the 40-piece cast, stage and art crews and band — have been working on the production since early December, and are almost ready for their debut. The band will be lead under the direction of Les Hollander, Wall High School band director.

Having taken on “Grease” and “Footloose” in prior years, Mrs. Hollander said the music department chose the 1943 Rodgers & Hammerstein classic this year because they wanted to do a more “standard” musical.

“I think it’s a good experience for the actors to act in that type of thing, as well,” Mrs. Hollander said.

Senior Chris Corcoran as Curly and junior Tess Marsh as Laurey will lead the show, playing love interests with a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship.

“She is teasing him a lot,” Tess explained of her character. “She knows he likes her and she likes him as well. The whole play is them basically teasing each other back and forth until finally they get together.”

Laurey uses Jud, who Tess described as an “evil character,” to make Curly jealous.

“He’s very deep and dark and I use him to bring to a dance to make Curly jealous,” she explained. “But it backfires on me big time.”

Chris’s character, Curly, he said, is the “archetypal American male figure.”

The play is set in 1912 and Curly is “the last of the cowboys,” Chris said. “He lives off the land and lives for the land, and is all about his work.”

Chris said the classic character of Curly was an exciting and interesting one to explore.

“The dialogue is so honest and up-front, but sparse,” he said. “You really have to put a lot of honesty in the small amount of words you’re given.”

Tess has been participating in productions since she was 8 years old, and currently attends classes at the Spring Lake Theater.

“I’ve just always done singing, acting and dancing,” she said.

Tess was discovered by her father, who heard her singing and got her involved in performing.

“When I was little, I used to sit on the swing in my backyard and sing, and my dad heard me and took me to voice lessons and got me into theater,” she said.

Sophomores Rebecca Herd, Kathryn Heim, Gillian Zucker and Tiffany Bauman are part of the “Many a New Day” selected ensemble in the cast and all have prior singing experience.

The girls said they enjoy being a part of the play because it promotes both the arts, as well as camaraderie among classmates.

“You’re doing something meaningful, but you’re also doing something fun,” Rebecca said.

At this stage of rehearsals, the cast is under a lot of stress, the girls said, but it is also one of the best times.

“The last week is the most stressful, but it’s also the most fun,” Tiffany said.

When opening night arrives, the girls said they will have a little bit of “nervous excitement.”

“There will be unpredictable things, but the show must go on,” Kathryn said.

Mrs. Hollander said though it is tough moving a 40-member cast, the group has been “wonderful” and rehearsals have been going well.

“The attendance has been superb, it really has,” she said.

Mrs. Hollander said the drama play “Lend Me a Tenor” had an “awesome” turnout in November, which she hopes will also be the case for the musical.

“I think the community will support it — I hope,” she said.

“Oklahoma!” will open at Wall High School, 18th Avenue, on Thursday, March 21, with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Performances are also scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, March 22, and for 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 23.

Tickets are $8 for seniors and students and $10 for adults. For ticket information, contact Mrs. Hollander at 732-556-2089 or

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