Oklahoma! Reviewed

Oklahoma! by Rogers and Hammerstein

Review by: Paul Towers, 18 October 2017

A Curve Young Company production directed by Sarah Ingram

Curve 18-19 October 2017

'an enjoyable romp.'

It is rant time... Again!

At Curve, before every performance there are multiple announcements that all mobile devices MUST be turned off. Even once you get into the auditorium there are further announcements stating that no pictures or audio recordings are allowed and all mobiles must be turned off. So, nearing the end of the second half of Oklahoma tonight there is a ringing of a phone behind me. It went on for several minutes and then I heard a voice say 'I am still in here'. I turned round to see the very rude and inconsiderate late teen/early 20's female (definitely NOT a lady) having a conversation on the phone. I was in row I and she was in row K, probably seat 3 or 4. While the excellent Curve usher was at her side within seconds admonishing her I was astounded at the selfish, inconsiderate behaviour. I just wish that Curve could take a strong line with such behaviour and ban them from the theatre for, say, 6 months!

So, back to the show...

Once again Curve Young Company (Musicals) have done themselves proud with a production of  Oklahoma!, the first musical written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II and originally performed on Broadway in 1943. Since then it has been revived again and again. Oklahoma! was one of the first musicals to integrate the songs with the humour and storyline thus giving it a dramatic impetus which allows for musical motifs to recur throughout the production.

Ostensibly a feel good show about ordinary cow folks in America's mid west it features Curly McLain (a mature confident voice from Matthew Deans) who is pursuing contrary Laurey Williams (Rose Caldwell) who is not sure if she is ready for a relationship, let alone with smart mouthed Curley. Meanwhile very disturbed farmhand Jud Fry (a magnificent performance from Kade Smith) obsesses about Laurey while Ado Annie Carnes (a fine comic performance from Rebecca Willis) is causing problems by dating both Will Parker (Luke Beaumont) and Ali Hakem (although scripted as a Persian is played as Jewish to fine comic effect by Brendon Fletcher). The rest of the large cast never put a foot wrong, sing with gusto and dance up a storm with nary a hoe-down in sight. The tricky dream sequence (for those familiar with the film) is handled imaginatively and very effectively

For a musical Oklahoma! has some very dark moments with suicide grooming, potential rape and knife crime all adding modern day resonances to the drama.

While the live band was sometimes a little overpowering and the authentic sounding American accents sometimes a little too good for English ears, the whole was an enjoyable romp.

The set design by Al Parkinson was clever with an imaginative use of back projection to indicate night and day, wheat fields and storms.

Oklahoma! is on at Curve for two more performances on Thursday 19th October. Grab a ticket if you can.

Paul Towers: