Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Oklahoma!"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony's current production is Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma". Based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, the show is about the spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys where two stubborn prairie kids, Curly, a cowboy and Laurey, a farm girl live. They refuse to show their true feelings for each other and eventually fall in love. The first collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the show originally opened on March 31, 1943 and ran for 2212 performances. Director Bill Cunningham infuses this show with high energy from start to finish while musical director Rob Goldman keeps the orchestra and cast in perfect harmonic blend all night long and the choreography by Dori Bryan is spectacular especially the dream ballet segment which enthralls you with its beauty, intensity and splendid execution. This classic musical is given a first rate production and the multitalented cast is rewarded with a standing ovation at the close of the show.

Bill keeps the show flowing along smoothly from start to finish, choosing the best people to fill all the roles. Rob's orchestra sounds like a Broadway ensemble and his teaching of the harmonies of the numbers is breathtaking. Dori's choreography is fantastic and encompasses many styles of dancing which are performed perfectly. The many numbers she choreographed include "Kansas City", "Many a New Day", "It's a Scandal", "The Farmer and the Cowman" and "Oklahoma". The dream ballet segment shows how a dream can turn into a nightmare. Both the male and female dancers in this show are topnotch. The gorgeous colorful costumes are by Dan Kozar with authentic petticoat pants. The multitude of props are by Gail Gilman. Technical director and lighting design is by Michael Teixeira and sound is by Ed DiMarzio.

The two leads in this show have fabulous voices and impeccable acting talent. David DaCosta is fantastic as the cocky cowboy who is madly in love with this beautiful farm girl, handling the comic and dramatic moments with ease. His incredible baritone voice sells his songs including "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin" as well as "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" the lead vocal of "Oklahoma" and his two duets "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Poor Jud". David's powerful stage presence makes his Curly into a memorable character in this show. David's real life wife, Nicole is splendid as Laurey. She is a lovely young woman with a magnificent soprano voice. Nicole's Laurey is spunky and has a backbone to stand up for herself especially in the confrontation with Jud scene, yet she is also sweet and tender when she needs to be, too. Her voice soars off the charts in "People Will Say We're in Love" duet with Curly, and in her solos "Many a New Day" and "Out of My Dreams". This is the first show Nicole and David have performed in together since they were married five years ago and the audience thoroughly enjoys every minute of it, too.

The supporting cast is very talented and is led by Michael Varner as Will Parker, the dumb country bumpkin who has trouble keeping his girlfriend in line. This man is a triple threat performer whose "Kansas City" is terrific as is his Deam Curly in the dream ballet and in "All or Nothin", his duet with Ado Annie. Michael's dancing is breathtaking throughout the show and his acting is, too. He is a human dynamo every time he appears onstage. Katherine Joy is wonderful as the hot to trot Ado Annie. She has run the gamut playing a nun, a virginal character and a loose woman and her comic timing and expertise shines through in each of these roles. Her solo " Can't Say No" is hilarious as she sings how she loves the man she is with to Laurey. She is also hilarious when she picks up Ali Hakim, carrying him offstage as well as getting caught on a fence while Will is flirting with two girls during their duet. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Ray O'Hare as Ali Hakim, the womanizing peddler who likes to flirt with every pretty girl he meets. This is one of the best roles I have seen him do. Ray wears a loud suit and is a hoot when he sings "It's A Scandal" where he complains about having to marry a girl because of her father's shotgun. His flirting ways catch up to him when he is forced to marry the constantly laughing, Gertie played wonderfully by Sheri Ziccardi. The feisty Aunt Eller is well played by Mary Beth Murphy who shows off her singing voice in "The Farmer and the Cowman". She show the strength that was needed back in 1907 when a woman had to be strong to survive in the wilderness. Mary Beth's character gets to have fun during the auction scene, "The Farmer and Cowman" song where she points her gun at everyone to stop a fight and her flirting scenes with Curly to make him realize he is in love with Laurey. The villain of the show is smarmy, evil, murdering stalker, Jud Fry. Jim Ansart is perfect in this role, scaring the audience with his volatile character every time he is onstage. His voice is awesome and his "Lonely Room" song stops the show with its intensity. Ado Annie's father is well played by Bill Roberts who gets many laughs while threatening Ali Hakim with his shotgun, argues with Will over his engagement to his daughter and sings of his dislike for the cowboys in "The Farmer and Cowman" song. Playing the Dream Laurey is Heather Dwyer who does a fantastic job while dancing up a storm during it. Kudos to the whole cast for bringing this classic show to life. So for an excellent rendition of "Oklahoma", be sure to catch this version in Foxboro. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Oklahoma!" (11 - 20 May)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508)543-ARTS

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