Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical telling the love story of cowboy Curly McLain and farm girl Laurey Williams, will open this year’s eight-day UCF Celebrates the Arts with evening performances April 7-8.

The production, a collaboration between the UCF music and theatre departments, will be directed by musical theatre coordinator Earl D. Weaver and feature a large cast of UCF actors and musicians. Next year, Oklahoma! celebrates its 75th anniversary since first opening on Broadway, and UCF’s performing arts team wanted to highlight the beauty of the musical in a big way.

“There will be more than 200 faculty, staff, and students from both departments working together to produce the show,” said Weaver. “There will be a cast of 50 performers/dancers and more than 70 orchestra members onstage together, bringing to life this golden age musical.”

Oklahoma! presents some challenges to the cast and crew, however, as the UCF students are more used to performing on stages much smaller than the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Walt Disney Theater.

“The demands of scale for the cast, orchestra, and all the technical/design elements has presented us with new challenges,” said Weaver, “but it is very exciting to get the opportunity to perform in such a prestigious venue.”

UCF theatre major Kyle Laing, who will play the lead role of Curly, also recognizes the demands of a significantly larger venue.

“Transferring the production from UCF into the Dr. Phillips Center will be a task,” he said, “not necessarily a bad one, but we will all need to be organized and on our A-games.”

Laing was last seen on UCF stages last fall as the title character in the university’s production of Young Frankenstein. He said this production obviously has a very different feel than that show.

“This is definitely the largest stage I’ve ever performed on. I think of all shows to perform, to have such a classic on our hands and that we’re doing it in its entirety—with a ballet performance in the middle—it’s just such an honor to recognize Oklahoma! on its 75th anniversary,” said Laing. “It’s a simple show, but a beautiful, lighter evening at the theatre, and I hope that people can just enjoy that and feel good afterwards and be a part of it with us.”

The third annual UCF Celebrates the Arts will feature more than 1,000 university students, 100 faculty members and some collaborative programs with outside partners to showcase theatre, dance, orchestra, choirs, big band, chamber music, cabaret, concert bands, opera, visual arts, studio art, gaming, animation, photography and film.

This is part of a series of stories about the April 7-14 events at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2017. All events are free, but a limited number of reserved seats at $20 will be available March 1-8. The free tickets will be available beginning March 9. Tickets are required for all performances and entrance into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. Ticketing and full schedule details are posted at https://arts.cah.ucf.edu/.