A note from the Director of “Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma! is a musical that is not only one of my all time favorites, it is near and dear to my heart.  Back in 2002, I was a 22 year old college student, coming home to visit my parents.  My mother was Directing a production of Oklahoma! at the Community Theater in my hometown.  Now I had been to many rehearsals to watch my mother at her craft… but this production just felt different.  I knew a lot of the main actors, but my older sister played “Dream Laurey”.  My sister, being an amazing ballet dancer, captivated me- and I was hooked.  This would be the last show my mother would Direct- she died of cancer in August of 2002.

Moving on, I never forgot about this show.  Although my life took many different directions, there never was a good time or a good venue to start my own Oklahoma! directing journey.  It wasn’t until 2020 that I really started pursuing Directing this landmark show at ASPI.  Well COVID hit, and then it would be multiple years of applying for rights before that Spring 2023 day when Debra Jolly called me to ask if I was sitting down- we had gotten the rights!  I cried with JOY!  

My vision for this show is very intentional.  Minimalism meets artistic visuals, dance meets song.  Less is more with me, and having the space to truly bring the iconic choreography of Agnes DeMille to life was very important to me.  With this being said- I could not have brought this vision to life without my amazing production crew.  My Assistant Director, Heather, who kept me grounded.  My Music Director Leah who was always so positive and the biggest cheerleader with the entire cast, my Scenic Designer Paula who amazed me with her talents every time I came to visit her every Thursday at the theater, and to my Tech Director Bill who understood that less is always more.  My AMAZING Stage Manager Alaina- who I absolutely loved seeing her growth every single rehearsal. But most important a BIG shoutout to my 2 amazing choreographers Lisa and Debra for bringing the DeMille essence to all the dance numbers. (we made it Lisa and Debra!)  My heart swells with gratitude.

I hope the audiences of ASPI are hooked, just like I was over 22 years ago, and I hope they leave the theater with a smile on their faces, joy in their hearts, humming and remembering all the iconic numbers in Oklahoma!

This one is for Mom.

Ali Carlson


Out of My Dreams: Choreography in Oklahoma!

“The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music.

Bodies never lie.” 

– Agnes de Mille

Oklahoma! was choreographed by American dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille. Born in 1905 New York, she graduated with an English degree from UCLA in 1933. It wasn’t until after college that de Mille considered that dancing could be a career. 

Oklahoma! the musical was innovative not only because it brought together the minds of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The musical also introduced the “dream ballet” sequence. 

Choreographer Agnes de Mille created a fifteen-minute dream ballet where leading lady Laurey struggles with her feelings for her two suitors, Curly and Jud. In a dream ballet there is no dialogue, only movement, and can feature advanced dancing techniques! Dream ballet sequences take place outside of the continuum of the production with the intention of providing clarification, foreshadowing, or symbolism. 

De Mille believed that the ballet was essential to the audience’s understanding of the characters because it conveyed emotions that words could not. Oklahoma! was de Mille’s first time choreographing a Broadway musical, and she made history! De Mille went on to choreograph musicals like Carousel and Brigadoon!

ASPI’s production of Oklahoma! will feature some original choreography from Agnes de Mille herself. 

Tickets are selling FAST! Showtimes are March 14-17 and 21-24. 

Tickets can be purchased at https://abramsspotlightproductions.com/ and please call the box office with any questions (920)826-5852!

Plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope! : Accents in Oklahoma!

In preparing for a role, actors and actresses go beyond learning lines to embody a character.  They need to convey emotion, and depending on where the play or musical takes place, they may also need to learn to speak in an accent. 

An accent is “a way of pronouncing a language that is distinctive to a country, area, social class, or individual.” Those that study language and its structure are called linguists. 

The musical Oklahoma! is set in 1906 in farm country of the Oklahoma territory. Oklahomans pattern of speech is categorized by linguists as a South Midland dialect. Their Southern speech patterns can be traced back to early settlers who came from the Southeastern United States to settle in Oklahoma. Many accents in the United States can be traced back to when and by whom an area was settled.

The most notable speech patterns in this specific dialect include:

  • Speech pattern is much slower
  • Vowels tend to be drawn out
  • Vowel breaking – short vowels like cat and dress turn into diphthongs (or even triphthongs). Example: cat becomes ka-yut, dress becomes drey-ess.
  • Monophthong – The diphthong in words like ride and lime tend to be pronounced as a monophthong. Example: rah’d vs. rah-eed
  • Rhotic – voiced  “r” before consonants
  • The vowel in words like thought and long tend to take the “oh” sound. Example: thote and lohng versus thawt and lawng
  • E to I and I to E reversal – Example: pen becomes pin, been becomes bin, tin becomes ten, etc.

Come join us at the theater March 14-17 and 21-24 and be transported to 1900s Oklahoma! We got a beautiful feelin’ that everything’s goin’ your way!

Tickets are selling FAST! Get yours now! Tickets can be purchased at https://abramsspotlightproductions.com/ and please call the box office with any questions (920)826-5852!