Saturday, 18 April 2015

OKLAHOMA by Long Eaton Operatic Society​ (LEOS)
May Hall, Trent College.

I nearly missed out on this one but so glad that I didn't as it ends today, Saturday.The last production I saw by LEOS was "Jesus Christ Superstar" last September, which was a cracking show, as is "Oklahoma".

You could class this as a period drama as it is set in 1906, and every period drama has to have the era appropriate costumes, all of which were sourced by the group themselves, that in itself is no mean feat as this cast is a large one, 37 in all.

Curly is in love with Laurey and wants to take her to the local dance but just to spite Curly, she accepts an invite from Jud, the hired hand who is a bit of a dark loner. After selling all of his worldly goods, Curly proves his love and beats Jud at the auction to buy Laurey's "basket". Jud is not happy with this and after a tussle with Curly, Jud dies by his own knife.

Oklahoma has plenty of light moments and some great dance routines, sprightly choreographed by Laurie Trott, Again with such a large ensemble, maybe not the easiest of tasks.

A great ensemble which really raised the roof with the mighty title song and songs such as "The Farmer and the Cowman", and they really filled the stage with the lively dance numbers. The tuneful orchestra was directed by Lizzie Bullard, creating a well balanced sound which was easy on the ear.

I had forgotten the dark "dream section"of this musical, showing the darker side of Jud, which gave the lighting by Tom Olding its shining moment, if you will pardon the pun. This section being a complete contrast to the rest of the musical.

Confident and energetic performances from all involved but with plenty of stand out roles. Curly, played by Dave O Neal is ideal leading man material and has a strong singing voice and keeps the accent all the way through.

Carefree, headstrong and teaser Laurey is played by Anna McAuley, and this is, quite surprisingly, her first leading role with LEOS. Again, another strong vocal performance in a lead role.

Jack Draper, as Will Parker and Rachelle Bragg as his flirty girlfriend, who just cain't say no are a lovely and believable pairing, who actually look like they are a pair on stage, and provide some of the comedy. Georgia Archer was delightful and fun as Gertie Cummings with the infectious giggle.

Also adding plenty of comedy to the proceedings was Kheenan Jones as the sweet talking "peddler" Ali Hakim. Comedy seems to suit Kheenan as he has also played the part of Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray" at school.

I am sure that Ben Woolley, who played Jud Fry, had an absolute ball with this dark, bullying, unsettled and slightly sinister role. Definitely a role to get his teeth into and definitely one of the more interesting characters in the musical.

And who can leave out Kathryn McAuley as Aunt Eller, the woman who tries to steer Laurey down the right path to love and doesn't take any nonsense from the men, especially with that gun in her hand!. Again, this is another first principal role for Kathryn with LEOS.

Overall another success for LEOS, and if May Hall was as packed as this afternoon all through the week, a popular society as well as a much loved musical.

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