2nd Star Productions’ Oklahoma!
Great songs, strong voices and spirited dancing
Oklahoma!, the Pulitzer Prize-winning first collaboration between Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is a rousing night of theater with spirited and memorable music. 2nd Star Productions has the vocal talent to do justice to this great musical.
Director and set designer Jane B. Wingard has chosen to present an Oklahoma! with a beautifully painted set that is flat and one-dimensional. That works because it keeps the focus on the music and the voices.
It also works to keep the stage clear for the large dance numbers, which are well choreographed by Vicki Smith, playing to the various strengths of the large cast of 37 adults and children. The chorus ensemble is spirited and engaging. The famous dream ballet originally choreographed by Agnes de Mille is sensitively and movingly danced by Vivian Wingard.
The almost 70-year-old musical tells the story of cowboy Curly’s courtship of Laurey, on whom hired hand Jud has his eye set. A secondary (and more fun) story involves Will Parker’s courtship of Ado Annie, she of the famous song, “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No!” Ado Annie is flirting with a traveling Persian salesman, Ali Hakim. Matriarch Aunt Eller is trying to keep straight the interweavings of these young people.
The best voices belong to Ben Harris as Curly and Michael J. Galizia as Jud Fry. Their duet “Pore Jud Is Daid” takes Jud from a cruel, vicious character to a cruel, misunderstood one.
Emily Mudd also gives Laurey a strong voice but not quite a strong enough stage presence.
Recently wed actors Nathan and Nicole Bowen as Will Parker and Ado Annie have an infectiously good time as the comic relief. Both Bowens are triple threats who can act, sing and dance.
The show has a few quirks. Accents are affected, and male actors take stances with arms akimbo on hips or thumbs hooked in belt loops that make their characters stereotypical.
Little faults pale in comparison to big strengths.
You’ll hear great songs — “Oklahoma!,” “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “Kansas City” and “People Will Say We’re in Love” — enthusiastically and very well sung by local talent going all out.