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Four locals perform in Bank Street Player’s production of “Oklahoma!”

HHS freshman Hailey Beard plays the role of a Bushy Head girl in Bank Street Players’ production of “Oklahoma!.”| Andrea Williamson
HHS freshman Hailey Beard plays the role of a Bushy Head girl in Bank Street Players’ production of “Oklahoma!.”| Andrea Williamson

Four Hartselle residents graced the Princess Theatre stage this past weekend during the Bank Street Players’ production of ‘Oklahoma!’ July 16, 17 and 18.

Hailey Beard, Cline Thompson, Jane Walker and Sarah Walker acted, sang and danced through the two and a half hour musical, featuring energetic Western production numbers and beautiful ballads set in an early 20th century town on the plains. While driving to Decatur for frequent rehearsals throughout the summer might seem like a large commitment, director Carol Puckett said the Bank Street Players frequently have cast members from Hartselle in their shows.

“I don’t feel like this is a Decatur thing,” Puckett said. “This is a North Alabama thing. We have participants from Haleyville, Huntsville, Hartselle and other places.”

Jane Walker, who sang in the farmer and rancher chorus, said that, while it is a somewhat long drive to Decatur, this particular musical made it worth the time.

“I love this show,” Jane said. “I played a Bushy Head girl in my high school’s production of ‘Oklahoma!,’ and I watch the movie about once every year.”

Although this was Jane’s first show with the Bank Street Players, she was actively involved in the Decatur Civic Chorus’ shows for around 10 years and played Miss Hannigan in the College Street Players’ production of “Annie.” After a five-year break, Jane said she is glad to be back onstage. In addition to returning to the stage, though, Jane also had a rare opportunity to share the stage with her daughter, Sarah.

“I decided to audition for ‘Oklahoma!,’ and then Sarah said she was going to audition,” Jane said. “They were independent decisions. We acted in ‘Big River’ and ‘Annie’ together, but we don’t perform together very often.”

Although they haven’t performed together many times, Sarah shares her mother’s love of the stage. The recent Wallace State graduate was active in Wallace’s theatre department, where she held roles such as Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Gingy in “Shrek the Musical” and Little Red in “Into the Woods.” She plans to attend Birmingham Southern College in the fall to double major in theatre and pre-medical studies. Sarah, who played the role of Gertie Cummings, said the character was enjoyable to portray.

“I enjoy playing Gertie,” Sarah said. “She’s the complete opposite of me, so it’s a fun role.”

For another Hartselle cast member, though, “Oklahoma!” provided a chance to be herself by allowing her to express her love of dance. Hailey Beard, a rising freshman at Hartselle High School, said that performing in the 10-minute ballet in the middle of the musical was her favorite number.

“I danced for 10 years before quitting to focus on theatre,” Beard said. “I so glad to be able to dance in this show, though, because I still love it.”

Beard, who gained her interest in theatre while performing in her third-grade class’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” has performed in many shows with Hartselle Junior High School and the College Street Players. She also performed with the Bank Street Players in “The King and I” in 2013. Beard said that her favorite thing about this particular show was the cast.

According to Chuck Puckett, a cast member and husband of director Carol Puckett, this cast was special.

“This is a talented cast,” Chuck said during a cast meeting. “I don’t know if we have ever done a show with this much raw talent.”

The Bank Street Players plan to perform three other shows during their 2015-2016 season.

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