Wantage Stage Musical Company - Oklahoma!
4th to 8th April 2006.
This is a shortened version of the very detailed report from NODA.
The scene was set for the evening once you entered the foyer, the photographic display was well thought out, and all the staff were dressed as Cowboys, and some of the ladies were ready for the 'box social'. I didn't notice any Indians!
This was an excellent production, and although it is now in its 66th year, it is still good box office. Director Gill had given it a new lease of life; it sparkled throughout, with a strong principal line up, and an enthusiastic large chorus (unfortunately the male gender is disappearing fast in every society). Everyone came over to the audience with vitality, and as if they were enjoying their roles. It had good settings, and lighting.
Suzanne Parrott was 'Aunt Eller' from the top of her head, to the tip of her toes... Curly (Nick Coard): this was a very confident, and relaxed performance. He was in total control of all situations... Laurey (Marianna Raho): her dream came true! She looked good on stage, moved well, and her timing was excellent... Will Parker (Chris Hems): at first I felt that Chris was a little nervous, and was holding back a little, ... but as the show progressed, his confidence grew... Jud Fry (Nigel Thornbory): quite an imposing character on stage. He looked the part, but perhaps he could have looked dirtier... Ado Annie (Jenny Stickland): she certainly rose to the challenge of acting this part - it was a joy to watch... Ali Hakim (Edmund Bennett): he showed the true hallmarks of an experienced performer, and above all, you could see that he was enjoying playing the character. He could not be faulted... Andrew Carnes (Ken Shaw): this is a delightful cameo role, which was pitched just right... Gertie Cummings (Anya Rollings): looked good on stage, and did everything that was asked of her, just right, without overdoing it... Ike Skidmore (Rob Thorpe), Slim (Duncan Sinclair), Cord Elam (Mike Davies) all displayed excellent characterization of their various parts... Dancers, led by Paula Read, Annie Gregson, Helen Harrison, Bethan Jones, Maria Keenan, Jo Kerswell: they all worked hard, and the proof was all there to see it. They moved well, in a restricted space, and they smiled, which was gratifying to us the audience... The Chorus: there were thirty plus people in some numbers, and this on quite a small stage. The movement about the stage area was precise and well balanced, presenting some excellent pictures to the audience. The choreographic numbers were well danced, with precise movement from everyone. Well done.
Director Gill Morgan, choreographer Michael da Silva. After sixty plus years, shows can become dated, but Gill and Michael between them had given it a new freshness... It was obvious that the cast had enjoyed being in this production.
Musical Director Michael Hurd. Was there a need for such a large orchestra in such a hall, e.g., from my seat I never heard the keyboard at all. The balance of the other instruments was fine, but at times I felt the volume of playing was too loud.
Thank you once again for an entertaining evening, which I'm sure was enjoyed equally by many people during the course of the week.