Horizon Community Learning Center students will be performing Richard Roger and Oscar Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!," starting this weekend.

The classic musical, which deals with class struggle between farmers and cowboys in a small Oklahoma territory, will be performed by 58 Horizon Honors Middle School and Horizon Honors High School students, who have been rehearsing for more than two months.

Opening day is tonight, and will take place in Horizon's Multi-Purpose Room. Tickets, available in both Horizon Community Learning Center offices, are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Erica Birkholz, 16, who plays Laurey Williams, said the play revolves around a community that has class issues, but who are ultimately working toward the same goal - to become a state.

"The biggest is the farmer-cowman conflict, but the whole story is focused around a community that thrives together survives together," Birholz said. "And, in the end, everyone wants to become a state."

One of the lead actors is senior Taylor Hudzinski, who plays hired farmhand Jud Fry and will be making his on-stage debut. He said working as a tight-knit group, especially in the week leading up to opening night, in which they rehearsed until 9 p.m., was an eye-opening experience.

"We have built some close connections between the actors and I think we are all looking forward to the opening," Hudzinski said. "I'm looking forward to the adrenaline rush. I played basketball for the school before, and I imagine it is going to be the same feeling."

Regarding the balance of school work and rehearsals, Birkholz said, "It can be difficult when you have honors classes, but you are here until 9 p.m. You see kids off in the corner working on their homework when they have some down time. But it's worth it when you get out on stage and you hear the applause for the first time. It's overwhelming."

Other notable roles include Ashlee Bahr as Aunt Eller, Gianni Del Franco as Curly, Sage Greenawalt as Will, Kacie Moss as Ado Annie, and Kaivan Mayelzadeh as Ali Hakim.

Performances are Oct. 28, 29 and Nov. 4, 5 at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. To find out more, contact Horizon, 16233 S. 48th St., at (480) 659-3000.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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