Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Oklahoma!

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey

Turtle Lane Turns Out
a Fine "Oklahoma!"

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

From Jeff Gardiner’s gorgeous golden orange sunrise to the glorious finale when the whole cast reprises the Oklahoma anthem, the TLP production of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic delights. I even thought I saw a scissor-tail flycatcher wing by Gardiner’s stunning prairie farmhouse set.

What really flies are sparks between Zachary Hardy and Aimee Doherty as the cowboy charmer and his skittish intended, even before they sing the romantic “People Will Say we’re in Love.” NOTE: Lots of roles are double cast so performances may vary.

Rogers & Hammerstein’s salute to the American pioneer makes no mention of the indigenous folk who actually “belong{ed} to the land”…Nevertheless, the musical contains exquisite songs and sweet sentiment, all of which get loving attention from director Jennifer Condon.

Chuck Walsh makes Ado Annie’s pa a crusty character, full of prune juice and loaded with buckshot…You can see where Annie (Melissa Sousa) gets her spunk. TLP has, in fact, two hilarious Annies: Sousa and Carrie Van Meter. And when Van Meter isn’t Gertie, Jessica Shulman is, piercing giggle and all. I know this isn’t easy to follow but bear with me. I’ve only seen one Aunt Eller, the fiery Tracy Nygard, who gives as good as she gets, and kicks up her heels mighty handily, with two Wills, both of whom are adorably dim. Patricia Strauss’ “Dream Ballet” is as close to Agnes DeMille’s choreography as you can get on the tiny TLP stage and both Dream Laureys (and company) danced divinely in Richard Itczak’s shimmering costumes.

Ray O’Hare nearly steals the show as the wily peddler man who’s a pushover for a pretty face (and a magnet for a shotgun). James Tallach gives a welcome depth to the villain, Jud Fry. Most actors practically twirl a mustache but Tallach finds the desperation and loneliness in the man. The TLP chorus, under the musical direction of Paul Huberdeau, makes the big production numbers a pleasure to hear. If only they could reprise every song! “You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!”

"Oklahoma!" (11 July - 19 August)
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA

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