Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Oklahoma!"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech Theatre Company's spring show is "Oklahoma!", which was Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration. Based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, the show is about the high 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 admit their true feelings for each other but eventually fall in love. Director Gerald Morrisey infuses this show with high energy while the musical directors Paul Sardinha and Cassandra Morgan keep the 14 piece orchestra and cast's harmonic blend and choreographer Beth Methia's dance numbers shine, creating a musical treat for the appreciative audience who reward their expertise with a standing ovation.

Gerald blocks the show marvelously, keeping the show flowing from one scene to the next. The 14 piece orchestra sounds like a Broadway ensemble. Beth's dances are amazing especially the Dream ballet where the leads do their own dancing. The ballet segment shows how a dream can turn into a nightmare when Jud kills Curly in Laurey's dream. Her other dance numbers include "Kansas City", "Many a New Day", "The Farmer and the Cowman" and her combinations of two step, can can, square dance and ballet to name a few. The colorful costumes are stunning as are the sets by Paul Arruda especially the working windmill. The lighting and the sound are topnotch, too and add the finishing touches to a professional style show, It is astounding what this high school accomplished with their students. Bravo!

The two leads in this show are excellently cast with their strong acting, singing and dancing talents. Chris McIntyre is not only dashing as Curly but gives the role the humor it needs to make him a likable cowboy. His strong voice sells his opening number "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" as he enters the stage, as well as in "Surrey with The Fringe on Top" where he mesmerizes Laurie with how he'll take her to the auction and his lead vocal in "Oklahoma" is terrific. Chris also excels in his two duets "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Poor Jud is Dead." His powerful stage presence helps to make Curly a memorable character in this show. Meighread Dandendeau, a lovely brunette, is splendid as Laurie. She gives the character a back bone to stand up for herself as well as being sweet and tender when needed. Meighread's soprano voice is superb and soars off the charts in her duet with Curly, "People Will Say We're in Love" and in her solos "Many A New Day" where it'll be a while before she finds the man for her and "Out of My Dreams" where she hopes her dreams will lead her to her true love. This latter number turns into the marvelous "Dream Ballet'' segment which is breathtaking. Her diction is perfect in all her songs, too.

The supporting cast is equally talented, led by Madisyn Bozarth's feisty and lovable Aunt Eller. She shows the strength needed for a prairie woman back in 1907 who needed to be strong to survive in the wilderness. Madisyn's mother earth character gets to have fun in the auction scene when she points a gun at everyone to stop fighting and in her flirting scenes with Curly to make him realize that he really loves Laurie. She displays her voice in "The Farmer and The Cowman" song where she and the cast do an excellent square dance as well as singing up a storm. The funniest pair of characters in the show are Will Parker and Ado Annie. Ryan Boudreau is a hoot as this dumb country bumpkin who has trouble keeping his girlfriend in line. His facial expressions when he is wooing Annie are hilarious and he displays his powerful voice and dancing talents in "Kansas City" and "All Or Nothing" duet with Marissa Vasques. Ryan is topnotch in this comic role. Marissa is fabulous as Ado Annie. She displays strong comic timing in her lines and her comic song "Cain't Say No" brings down the house with sustained laughter. Marissa also displays her strong dancing prowess, too and is hilarious in "All Or Nothing" duet. Her scenes with the Peddler are hysterical, too.

Joshua Boucher plays the womanizing peddler, Ali Hakim who likes to flirt with and mess around with every pretty girl he sees. He wears a funny suit and shows off his voice in "It's A Scandal, It's A Outrage" when he complains about a father's shotgun forcing him to marry his daughter. Ali's flirting ways finally catch up to him when he is forced to marry the constantly laughing, Gertie Cummings who pursued Curly throughout the show. He delivers his one liners perfectly. Brittany Iacoponi is a hoot as Gertie with her laugh and she displays her powerful soprano voice in "Out of My Dreams". The villain of this show is the smarmy, evil murdering stalker, Jud Fry. Daniel Mello as Jud fits the bill wonderfully. He scares the audience during the show and displays his voice in the comic "Poor Jud" duet with Chris McIntyre as well as in his solo, "Lonely Room" which is reminiscent of "Soliloquy" from "Carousel". Jud is sick and tired of looking at naked pictures of women and wants one of his own. It is a powerful number full of high intensity. Olivia Coucci plays Ado Annie's father, Andrew Carnes who threatens Ali with a shotgun, argues with Will and shows his dislike of cowboys in "The Farmer and the Cowmen" song. She wears a full beard and uses a deep voice in this part, playing it wonderfully. I have pleasant memories of this show having played Andrew Carnes back in 1998 and assistant directed it in 1980. Corey Teves as Ike Skidmore and Joshua Dufresne as Cord Elam add comic moments during the trial scene in the second act. Kudos to the dancers who handle the dance numbers beautifully. So for an excellent rendition of this classic musical, be sure to catch "Oklahoma" at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech Theatre before the surrey leaves town. Tell them Tony sent you. These talented students are headed for the Big Apple at their prowess in this show. Run do not walk to their box office.

"Oklahoma!" (21 -24 May)
1121 Ashley Boulevard, NEW BEDFORD MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide