Oklahoma! / our review
BOLD superb Passionate
Aug 29th, 2019
Oklahoma: You're Doing Fine
Fun Fact: Oklahoma is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, titled Green Grow. The original Broadway production opened in 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances!
Target Audience: Everyone who has ever seen a musical play can pay homage by seeing Oklahoma, and if it's your first musical - what better place to start?!
Best Bit: The entire cast stole my heart - absolutely brilliant performances all round.
Morning After Effect: Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Judging by the reactions from a few of the senior citizens leaving the theatre in front of me, Daniel Fish (Director) has certainly made some bold adjustments to the classic musical Oklahoma. To be more specific, the man in front of me (around seventy years old), seemed rather baffled and wanted to know "Why were they slamming and stomping their feet like that in the last song?" Well, I have no reference as this was the first time I have ever seen Oklahoma. But, as far as I was concerned that passionate session of foot-stomping shifted the room and ended with an uproarious standing ovation from the audience!
Most American's are familiar with the production having studied it at school or seen it performed in their local communities. Oklahoma is not just a classic but represents the shift in musicals as we know them today. Rodgers and Hammerstein (music, lyrics and book) are considered gods among the theatre arena. They both had successful careers in operettas before joining forces in 1943 and created their first production Oklahoma, for which they won a special Pulitzer Prize, they made bold choices and introduced this integrated form that became known as the musical play. They, of course, are also known for their famed productions which are still produced today; Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.
Oklahoma is set in farm country, the land of corn, smooth liquid drawls, cowboy boots, guns, and love. The narrative is delightful, both funny and intense with a dark twist as we follow two love triangles and gear up to the town social. Rodger and Hammerstein's production was certainly progressive with daring female characters, broadminded lyrics, suspense, and an unmissable charm. Fish keeps you on the edge of your set with his brilliant direction alongside the immersive lighting design by Drew Levy which has the audience exposed for a large part of the show. Laura Jellinek's intimate, set in the round, encapsulates the audience with gun racks - adding to the tension in the room. The layout makes you feel like you are a part of this community and deeply draws you into the world of these characters. With live music on stage and complimentary corn and chili served during intermission, we are lured even further into the make-believe, but as the plot thickens we too at the town social, and it all feels too real, too close to home.
Perhaps, that answers the questions why seventy-plus years after its inception the cast of Oklahoma are smashing themselves around the stage with blood on their hands for the final number, why there is so much anger, so much pain, so much love as they sing the lyrics of living in this grand land reassuring themselves and us, that we're "doing just fine".
Get your cowboy boots and giddy on up to this show, you'll get to spend the night tapping your foot to a superb score performed marvelously by this outstanding cast - Damon Daunno, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Ali Stroker, James Davis, Mary Testa, and Patrick Vaill, to name a few! It's about as fun as a real box social!
View our show pages for more information about Oklahoma!, Circle in the Square Theatre.