Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Nottingham Theatre Royal

"Oklahoma" 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. There's a "box social dance" that night, which includes an auction of lunch baskets prepared by the local girls to raise funds for a schoolhouse. The man who wins each basket will eat the lunch with the girl who prepared it. Curly asks Laurey to go with him, but she refuses, feeling that Curly has waited too long. Laurey accepts the invitation of the hired hand, Jud Fry, but Jud is not the man she wants to be with.

Aunt Eller, Laurey's aunt, was played by Belinda Lang, of "2.4 Children" fame, and what a lovely performance she put in, full of character and Southern warmth, fiesty and wily but knowing what's what with Curly and Laurey.

Ali Hakim, the peddler,was played by Gary Wilmot. To me Gary didn't really bring an awful lot to the musical, but while Ali is not a major major character, he is essential to the plot,and it kind of felt that Gary was drafted in to be another well known name on the cast list. No offence to Gary because what he did, he did well.

The opportunity to have a "big name" in the lead male and female roles was not taken in this production, and I for one did not miss a named pair as Laurey and Curly because Charlotte Wakefield and Ashley Day, respectively were very well cast in the leads. they were both charming, playful and cheeky with Ashley's voice maybe just pipping Charlotte's to the post of being the voice of the evening. So easy to listen to and he made it seem so effortless.

All vocals were of the highest standard and Nic Greenshields (Jud Fry) also has a really strong voice, What I thought was really good was that Nic is so much taller than Ashley which meant that when Jud intimidated Curly, he really did look like he was doing just that. You could sense the tenseness between these two characters with his overbearing, shadowy, dark character.

James O Connell (Will Parker) and Lucy May Barker (Ado Annie) were a lovely, nay "purdy" pairing and again very character driven performances by both actors with some lovely comedic pieces.

The choreography was by Drew McOnie and was just stunning and full of energy, I was out of breath just watching them promenade and two step all over the stage.

One piece of choreography which I thought could have been done slightly better was the fight choreography between Jud and Curly when Jud was killed by his own knife. I just didn't believe it, and it looked too staged.

The sets were just brilliant though, designed by Francis O Connor who also designed the costumes. These were gorgeous for the women and you can't go wrong with a pair of leather chaps on a cowboy now can you?

Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote some classic songs for this musical. Catchy and memorable songs like "People Will Say We're In Love", "Surrey With The Fringe On Top", "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", "I Cain't Say No", "The Farmer & The Cowman" and of course the title song. All sounding wonderful played by the orchestra under the musical direction of Stephen Ridley.

"Oklahoma" is such a feel good musical which will surely put a broad smile on your face in and outside the theatre. You can see this heart warming musical at the Nottingham theatre royal until Saturday 2 May 2015

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