by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Worcester Swan Theatre, 9-13 April 2013
Director: Chris Love | Musical Director: Sue Black
“Great Witley Operatic Society impress with their version of an American classic”
OKLAHOMA! is Great Witley Operatic Society’s first venture into the world of American musical theatre and away from light opera – and it definitely should not be the last.
From the moment Kit Windows-Yule strode on to the stage to open the show at Worcester’s Swan Theatre with that wonderful song Oh What A Beautiful Morning it was thoroughgoing entertainment.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s story is a classic. There’s rivalry between the farmers and the cowmen. Then there’s Laurey (Lynsey Squair) and Curly (Kit Windows-Yule), who tease and flirt and go out of their way to avoid admitting their obvious attraction for each other, while hired hand Jud Fry (Michael Staiger) nurses a much less wholesome desire for Laurie. Amidst all this evolves the zany romantic triangle of Will Parker (Lewis Adey), Ado Annie (Kathryn Cope) and Ali Hakim, (Dan Robinson), the Persian travelling salesman who likes to peddle more than the wares on his cart to the local ladies, Kit Windows-Yule is a captivating hero, a mixture of boyishness and earnestness, with a truly amazing voice delivering those beautiful Rodgers’ melodies. Equalling his vocal talents is Lynsey Squair, a clear and beautiful soprano, playing the naive and coy, yet clever Laurey.
Sue Wild makes an endearing Aunt Eller, the de facto stateswoman who guides the community’s affairs by guile (nudging Curly and Laurey toward each other), threat (brandishing a gun to stop farmer versus cowboy fisticuffs) or appeals to compassion and common sense (overruling a judge at Curly’s trial).
Dan Robinson makes for an enjoyable Ali Hakim, with charm, slyness and a big dose of comic genius. Kathryn Cope is the wonderfully skittish, flirtatious Ado Annie, the girl who “cain’t say no.” And Lewis Adey – just 17 on opening night – gave a superb performance as the prairie dim cowboy Will Parker.
Never mind the “bright golden haze on the meadow” the storms gather with the appearance of troubled farm-hand Jud Fry, played strongly and menacingly by excellent vocalist Michael Staiger. This is an excellent performance, with solid direction and good choreography by Chris Love, producing such a venture for the first time. The singing is great and the overall feel of the production deftly rides the lines between golden-hued nostalgia and true grit.
This Oklahoma! is more than OK – it is a winner and it’s on until Saturday.
“Well done, Oklahoma! was top performance”
SIR – I must congratulate Great Witley Operatic Society on the production of Oklahama!. It was magnificent and the first time I have seen a GWOS production.
The director Chris Love gave a show of perfection resembling the original film of the 50s with fine music that resounded across the whole auditorium.
Everyone connected with the performance, from the director to the costumes, scenery, lighting and the beautiful voice of Kit Windows-Yule (Curly), who I have seen before, was excellent.
Kit gave the musical a head start right from the beginning with his rendition of Oh what a beautiful morning. It may have been cold, miserable and wet outside but inside there was a warmth of pure 50s nostalgia.
I must also mention Laurey, played by Lynsey Squair, who was as good as Curly with the most exquisite voice. The comic antics of Ado Annie Carnes (Kathryn Cope) were splendid for all to see with Ali Hakim (Dan Robinson) and Will Parker (Lewis Adey) vying for her attention.
The whole cast from actors to dancers were absolutely first class.
I understand from the programme’s foreward by Paul Thompson (president) that it is the first time that GWOS has ventured into American Musical Theatre. May I suggest they do so again.