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Buddy & Gail Direct OKLAHOMA

OKLAHOMA Summer 2023

Buddy & Gail Direct and Choreograph in South Africa

Our fearless leaders, Gail and Buddy Crutchfield traveled to South Africa this summer to direct and choreograph OKLAHOMA. Originally approached in 2019 by Professor Barbara Hill Moore, Associate Dean of Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, Gail and Buddy, both graduates of SMU Meadows School of the Arts, were scheduled to work with students during the 2020 summer school year. Due to the global pandemic, the production was canceled. After four years of Covid and political delay, Professor Moore asked if Gail and Buddy would still be interested in the project for June of 2023, and they said yes!

Along with holding the title of Associate Dean, Barbara Hill Moore is also a distinguished professor of voice at SMU. She and her husband, Le Moore produce the SMU in South Africa, study abroad program. Fifteen students from SMU collaborated with twenty-three students from Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha, South Africa, a human rights study and the musical theatre production.

Gail and Buddy only had three weeks with the students to put the show together. Many of the students had little to no experience performing on stage. Rehearsals included learning the material for the show, the disciplines of dance/choreography, and simple lessons such as, what is upstage, downstage, stage right, stage left?

The SMU students included five Music majors and ten Human Rights majors. The twenty-three NMU students were mostly music students, but all the students were passionate, committed, and determined to make the performance a success! The students bonded with each other immediately, creating a wonderful atmosphere for rehearsal.

Even though all the South African Students spoke English, many were native Zulu and Xhosa speakers. The libretto for OKLAHOMA is written with very specific regional pronunciations, so coaching the diction and making sure that everyone understood what they wanted as actors in OKLAHOMA, was the biggest challenge!

The South African audiences LOVED it. The students LOVED it, we LOVED it, with many tears upon departure, a truly FANTASTIC experience!


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