“Oklahoma” by West Bridgford Operatic Society
Nottingham Arts Theatre
Nottingham Arts Theatre
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration remains in many ways their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules of musical theatre, which are still being followed today.
Set in a western Indian territory just after the turn of the century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and the cowboys provides a colourful background against which Curly, the handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a farm girl, play out their love story.
The road of true love though never runs smooth. This journey is as bumpy as a ride in a surrey, with or without the fringe on top, down a pot-hole ridden ride down a country lane.
Matthew Siveter (Curly) has the strongest voice in the cast, but I knew that having seen him perform in "The Mikado". His rich tenor soars majestically and with incredible ease. His charisma makes this show an easy watch.
I said that Matthew has the strongest voice but the rest of the cast aren't lacking in power or commitment by any shot.
Louise Grantham (Laurey) has this feisty role down to a tee. She is another one with a voice that soars; no fear of her not reaching the back walls of the theatre.
Ali Biller (Aunt Eller) is an absolute delight to watch. Her smile lights up the stage, she sings like an angel and she stamps Aunt Eller's authority on the musical.
This is a big cast so here's a few more equally notable mentions.
Alisdair Maughan (Will Parker) plays Ado Annie's beau, who she cain't say no to. Another fun role. He cracked the first lasso task but the second fell short. That's not a criticism as those things are notoriously difficult to master, and I imagine Alisdair has managed that section fine in rehearsals,and will in the upcoming shows.
Stacey Ireson (Ado Annie) also injects loads of fun into the role, especially in her main song "I'm Just A Gal Who Cain't Say No".
Paul McPherson (Ali Hakim) was the travelling Persian salesman who wanted to share his wares with Annie without putting a ring on it, naughty man! This show is full of really lovely comedy, fun performances and Paul makes everyone smile. My only niggle was that in parts, while doing the Oriental accent, some of the script was lost, but these were only on odd occasions and didn't take any fun from the role.
Martin Thomas (Jud Fry), was the sinister villain of the piece, and his facial expressions created that sinister air about him. Lovely characterisation which earned him "boos" from the audience when he took his bows. Another strong voice.
Natalie West (Gertie Cummins) bagged her man on the rebound with Ali Hakim, but it's her laugh that she'll be remembered for.
Ian Pottage (Andrew Carnes) notches up his 4th time in this show, and is always a delight to see in any production.
A good ensemble, but at times I got the feeling that (only some) seemed to be holding back just a tad in the dancing. This is a joyous musical and with all of those country dances going off, you can really throw yourself into them. Sometimes though it felt like more gusto could have been applied. it may have been that the stage with all of those people on didn't give the opportunity to fling yourself around. You have to abide to health and safety after all!
I couldn't easily find an acknowledgement in the programme for the choreographer, but thank you for some wonderfully high spirited choreography by Agnes De Mille.
Pacy direction by Julie Fowler kept this musical bouncing along nicely, and this is her first direction of "grown-ups", having worked with younger theatre performers in the past.
The music clarity was good and at just the right level as to not swamp any of the singers. Musically directed by Timothy Selman.
Loved the costumes, making watching this musical great fun. Let's face it even us big boys like dressing up in cowboy boots and chaps now and again, don't we?
I've already said that this musical is a joyous, fun musical and that's what spills over from the stage. Great songs that you all know, "People Will Say We're In Love", "Surrey With The Fringe On Top", "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", "The Farmer And The Cowman" and "Kansas City" among them.
A talented cast and colourful set, great costumes (Ann Thomas) and not forgetting the props (Grace Lievesley) and a well set out programme (Rob Harrison).
“Oklahoma” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 4 March 2017