Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Theatre Review: Oklahoma!

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Is one of the most successful musical’s ever, the original production premiering in New York in 1943 and later going on to break box office records on Broadway, where it ran for 5 years and London’s Drury Lane where it ran for three.

Of course , the production has become evermore so iconic through its film and stage adaptations, featuring a long line of larger than life actors as Curly, including Gordon McRae and Hugh Jackman. However on this occasion, its Welsh TV celebrity Mark Evans who attempts to fill the very large boots of our cowhand hero and win the heart of Laurey as played by Gemma Sutton.

The proceedings get off to a bit of a slow start as the story, set in the summer of 1907 in the Indian Territory that will soon become known as Oklahoma! introduces Curly, Laurey and Aunt Eller (Marti Webb) to the tones of Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

However the pace picks up with introduction of the rest of the company and the larger song and dance numbers making the show more enjoyable, though some have a tendency to lean closer to ballet than the usual thigh slapping foot stomping performance you would expect from such a production.

The star of the show is undoubtedly Pete Gallagher as Curly’s Love rival Jud Fry. Gallagher delivers a fantastic performance and delivers his songs with a strong baritone befitting the style of Oklahoma! There are also some splendid comic performances from Michelle Crook as Ado Annie Carnes and Vas Constanti as the Gypsy trader Ali Hakim.

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