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IU Kokomo stages Oklahoma! April 11-14

Arts Campus Life Apr 3, 2024

KOKOMO, Ind. — As a veteran performer, Chloe VanWinkle understands how her singing and acting impacts any musical she is cast in.

This semester, while playing a role in Indiana University Kokomo’s production of Oklahoma!, the humanities major with concentrations in music and performing arts is learning the ins and outs of what happens backstage, as assistant director to Garry and Wendy Grice.

“It’s grown my range as someone who wants to work in the performing arts,” she said. “We go through the strategy and how a big musical piece comes together on the stage. There are so many moving pieces, and a director has to think about all those pieces and how that’s going to come together. I’ve never worked on a musical as a director. Understanding the music aspect, the acting, the props, the set, and how all that comes together to look nice on the stage, that’s what the director does.”

She also plays the part of Ado Annie Carnes in the musical, which will offer performances at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11 through Saturday, April 13, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 14 in Havens Auditorium. Tickets, which will be sold at the door, are $10 for general admission, $5 for students and IU Crimson Card holders, and free for children 6 and younger.

The musical tells the story of Laurey Williams, a farm girl in 1906 Oklahoma Territory, and her courtships with cowboy Curly McClain and farmhand Jud Fry. It also features the romance between cowboy Will Parker and the flirtatious Ado Annie Carnes.

Wendy Grice said participating in a musical is about more than performing — it’s also about building community, which leads to student success.

“It’s been proven that activities like music and sports are so important for retention,” she said. “It makes a difference when they find their people, their inclusive group. They encourage each other to become more active on campus and get the entire college experience.”

Madesynn Freeman, who portrays Laurey, agreed.

“Performing at IUK has brought me so many connections I will have for a lifetime,” she said. “I hadn’t been in many extracurriculars before college, but when I started musicals, it brought me a lot of the people I’m friends with now. The community it brings is such a sweet family that ends up coming together and putting something on stage that makes people feel something deep inside. It’s beautiful to be a part of something like that and to be able to tell a story that’s moving.”

Grice said while the musical tackles dark topics like the rivalry between ranchers and farmers and harassment, it also is uplifting, and epitomizes the American spirit.

“There’s a lot of stress and strife going on in our world, and something like this show can lift your spirits,” she said. “It’s good to come out and watch something uplifting and leave with a happy feeling and humming the tunes.”

For more information, contact Grice at

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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