Muskogee's Rappe enjoying first season with River City Players

Image of Michael Rappe.

(Tahlequah, Okla.)—From the first time he attended a production, Micheal Rappe found himself impressed by the performances of Northeastern State University’s River City Players.

“I actually went to a River City show with my mom a long time ago,” Rappe said. “I was only 9 or 10 years old but it stuck with me. Over the years I became more and more involved with music. This being my last year as a student at NSU, several of my friends told me to audition. So I did and here I am.”

Rappe is now winding down his first season as a member of the performing cast. The Players put on their final 2011 shows August 6.

A well-known entertainer in the Muskogee area, Rappe said working with River City has broadened his horizons in acting and singing even further.

“Actually, my memory is a lot better than I thought,” he said. “We all had to be focused because we had just two full weeks of rehearsal before the shows opened.”

Rehearsal and preparation are nothing new for Rappe. His resume includes singing at the The Roxy Theater in Muskogee and work with Oxford Productions and Muskogee Little Theatre, where he was actor of the year in 2004. At NSU he is active in opera workshops, NSU Entertainers, the University Singers and University Chorus.

An intriguing facet of Rappe’s multiple talents is his Frank Sinatra impersonation. He performed a Sinatra tribute at the Roxy last October.

“I love singing jazz and people would tell me I sounded a lot like Sinatra,” he said. “My buddy Jim Blair, who impersonates Hank Williams Sr., said I should do a Frank tribute. In February 2010 I was at the Muskogee Civic Center to meet with the center director Cassandra Gaines. Jim was visiting with her and said ’There’s Frank right there.’ That led to my first real gig singing as Sinatra.”

Rappe is also involved with youth theater and reading camps in Muskogee. Entering his senior year as a theatre major at NSU, he finds teaching appealing.

“If the professional music business doesn’t work out, I plan on trying to get into public schools and teach drama,” he said. “I’ve been told I have a knack for teaching and I really enjoy it. It gives me a chance to make a difference in kids’ lives.”

With his extensive background of singing and acting on stage, Rappe counts his work with the RCP team as “a great experience” and worth repeating.

“I’m working with people with a high level of professionalism,” he said. “Off stage, they are great people to be around and you want to associate with them. There is no doubt I would like to come back. I would do RCP as many summers as they would let me.”

Rappe said the River City Players’ quality material and talented performers combine to offer productions with wide appeal.

“I really encourage people who think they aren’t into musical theater to give River City Players a chance,” he said. “You will know all the songs – they were all chart-toppers – and the musicians are outstanding. Hopefully our songs will bring back some memories for the audience.”

The Sequoyah Institute and the College of Liberal Arts at NSU present the Stars in the Summer series. The final weekend of performances ends August 6 with shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

The River City Players venue is the Shawnee Street Theatre at 124 W. Shawnee St. in Tahlequah. River City Classic: Hits of the ’50s and ’60s is put on Friday and Saturday afternoon. River City Retro: Hits of the ’70s and ’80s is performed Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Also included in the Stars in the Summer series are shows by Downtown Country. A Grande Ole Celebration is performed Friday and as the Saturday matinee. This is Country Music! is presented on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Shows are at the University Playhouse at 300 N. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

Tickets remain on sale for the final weekend of Stars in the Summer. Prices are adults $12, NSU alumni and employees $10, seniors 60-over and groups of 12 or more $8, students and children $6. To reserve tickets call (918) 458-2075. For more information visit the Sequoyah Institute.

Published: 8/2/2011 10:56:37 AM

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