Statehood is imminent and love is in the air as Liberty Preparatory Christian Academy takes the stage this week for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Performed from April 11-14 by middle and high school students at the Charles Mack Citizen Center, this presentation is the final of three events rounding out a year of theatrical arts by the school.

Five performances will highlight the four days of “Oklahoma!” in downtown Mooresville – three evening performances at 7 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday as well as two matinees, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are currently available for all shows as rehearsals in the space at 215 N. Main St. unfold, perfecting the cast’s on-stage presence.

Said Event Director and Liberty Prep’s K-12 drama teacher Heather Baynes, “As the director of three shows in a year, after choosing two unknown pieces [earlier in the school year], I wanted to choose something more familiar, something that when people hear the name, they recognize it.”

Not only was “Oklahoma!” “near and dear” to Baynes’ heart as a former Ado Annie performer, but the musical was due for a 2019 Broadway revival, which made it quite timely for a local performance as well as education in the theatre classroom.

More than 54 percent of Liberty Prep’s student body, noted Baynes, is involved within the K-12 theatre program. That is reflected on the stage as 42 middle and high school students comprise the cast with an additional six students serving as stage management.

Emily Dorsey, a senior at Liberty Prep, is stage manager for “Oklahoma!” and leads her team after three shows working on sets. With a love for theatre since age 5, it took a bit longer to develop a desire for work behind the scenes, but she’s had the passion ever since a teacher “threw” her backstage.

“I will definitely do this for the rest of my life,” the soon-to-be graduate noted.

Dorsey said Sunday’s last show “will be rough” as she leaves Liberty Prep theatre behind – a program where they “close one show and start another.”

“They’ve become my family. I really love them to death.”

Senior Emma Kerns, who plays Laurey in the show, shared similar sentiments.

“I am feeling pretty sad about that … We’re a good team. But I’m ready to leave [the juniors] with the legacy of the program.”

Added the principal actor who has worked with the theatre program throughout every show since joining Liberty Prep in ninth grade, “I’m very thankful for this opportunity and all that God is doing for our program.”

Although each show is made to be “as student led as possible,” Baynes noted the immense support of staff and her own family toward each production.

“We really rely on parent volunteers,” she said, adding that all three shows performed each year are made possible as well due to amazing support for the local arts community in addition to the Liberty Prep family.

“As a small school, we are constantly fighting for more and better resources. It truly takes a village.”

Performances of “Oklahoma!” by the students of Liberty Prep Christian Academy will occur on April 11-13 at 7 p.m. and April 13-14 at 2 p.m. at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. Purchase tickets in advance at libertyprepnc.com.

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