Thursday, 7 November 2013

OKLAHOMA Nottingham Theatre Royal

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 9 November.
Nottingham Operatic Society

Oklahoma! is the first musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.

The musical has everything including a dark, ominous stalker in Jud Fry who meets his demise at the hands of our hero, Curly McLain on the night of Curly and Laurey's wedding.

There's bags full of comedy provided by many of the main and secondary characters, in complete contrast to the darker stalker undercurrent, and of course a great soundtrack which includes "People Will Say We're In Love", "Surrey With The Fringe On Top", "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", "I Cain't Say No" as well as the rousing title track.

The Nottingham Operatic Society have taken a few risks with this musical by casting the main characters with newbies but you know what, the risks paid off big time.

Our hero of the hour Curly, is played by Junior Harding, a curly haired, good looking lad with a belter of a voice, and his first time with the NOS. It must be daunting to be landed with such a great musical main character, but he smiled all the way through.

Laurey was played by another NOS newbie, Lauren Gill, and what a voice. Close your eyes and it could've been Shirley Jones from the 1955 film soundtrack. You can see why Curly would sell his saddle, gun and horse for her picnic basket!!

I loved the total air of menace that Meng Khan oozed with Jud, and again a top quality voice as well.

Oklahoma has some great comic characters and Ado Annie (Grace Gallagher) and Will Parker (Rob Harrison) really looked like they had fun on that stage.

Quickly becoming one of my favourite Nottingham actors is Simon Theobald who played the travelling salesman from Persia, Ali Hakim. Another wonderful comic character played by a genuinely nice, and knowledgeable man. I've seen Simon play several roles over the year and every time seems to have been a perfect casting.

Another stalwart of Nottingham stages is Alison Hope who was wonderful as Aunt Eller. Alison completely eradicated the memory of Marti Webb's portrayal of Eller from a few years back at the Theatre Royal from my mind.

With a large cast including seasoned Nottingham actors Callum and Liam Hall, Andrew Coe, Nigel Newton and Kate Williams in tow, this is another cracking show from The Nottingham Operatic Society.

Musical Director Steve Williams conducted a beautiful sounding orchestra which worked so well with the cast that every single word of the songs were heard crystal clear, but provided the perfect musical backdrop for the magical musical masterpieces of Rodgers and Hammerstein

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