Oklahoma, Festival Theatre, Review

Rating
4
Show details
Company
Music & Lyrics and Royal & Derngate Northampton
Production
Rachel Kavanaugh (Director), Drew McOnie(Choreographer)Stephen Ridley(Musical supervisor)
Performers
Charlotte Wakefield (Laurey), Ashley Day (Curly), Belinda Lang (Aunt Eller), Gary Wilmot (Ali Hakim), Lucy May Barker (Ado Annie), James O'Connell (Will), Nic Greenshields (Jud)
Running time
165mins

The corn may be high but there is more than meets the eye in this production of ‘Oklahoma’.

This was the first time I had seen a professional company producing a show that is stock material for amateur theatre in the city. From the overture by a proper orchestra this show oozes the quality that you would expect despite some of the relative inexperience of some of the cast.

The number of great songs is considerable and not a case of waiting for the big ‘hit’. They just keep coming like buses at the rush hour. Add into the mix slick choreography, with the dream sequence and the box social being highlights. The story on the surface seems light but the objectification of women and the threat of violence from the loner Jud was accentuated in this production.

The inclusion of Gary Wilmot in the cast was a big plus for me having enjoyed his performance in ‘Me and my Girl’ many years ago at The Playhouse. Although not the biggest part, Gary as Ali Hakim always contributed to the humour of the piece with great timing and expression.

Ashley Day as Curly has a voice that does justice to the familiar songs and his semi-reluctant girlfriend Laurey portrayed in feisty style by Charlotte Wakefield who seems equally at home whether singing, dancing or acting.

As in the case of a few Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musicals the other female leads get more character such as Belinda Lang as Aunt Eller and Lucy May Barker as Ado Annie. The latter performance was particularly impressive and seemed to merit being further up the bill. The rest of the cast was also strong with James O’Connell (Will) and Nic Greenshields (Jud) the pick.

The first half flew by despite its length. A satisfying night of nostalgia, with theatre sets that combined with choreography, costumes and lighting add up to a quality production.

Runs to Saturday 25th April @ 7.30pm--Matinees Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm