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OKLAHOMA!

OKLAHOMA!

Based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs
Original Dances by Agnes de Mille

Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players

Director – Kate Hicks
Music Director—Tim Studstill
Choreographer—Angela Burkey
Scenic Designer—Mik Brown
Scenic Artist—Julie Lee
Costumes—Becki Esch
Lighting Design—Alan Meadows

CAST
Curly—Andrew Guzman
Laurey—Haley Boswell
Will Parker—Justus Peters
Ado Annie Carnes—Emily Bailey
Jud Fry/Ensemble—John Tripp
Aunt Eller—Maureen Benke
Andrew Carnes—Jonathan Nash
Ali Hakim—Trevin McLaughlin
Cord Elam—Randy Head
Fred—Nicolas Hancock
Gertie Cummings—Alyson Kessinger
Slim/Dream Curly—Robert Drapiza
Dream Laurey/Dance Captain/Ensemble—Kathryn Anthony
Ellen—Marcie Allison
Kate—Rachel Daniels
Ensemble—Angela Burkey, Victoria Burkey, Judy Houston, Erin Ivey, Meagan Sellers, Emma Shirley, Ruth Ann Warwick, Madelaine Almond, Ariel Hancock


Reviewed Performance: 6/24/2017

Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

First premiering on Broadway in 1943, Oklahoma! is the first musical written by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. The original Broadway production opened on March 31, 1943. It was a box-office hit. It ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances, later enjoying award-winning revivals, national tours, foreign productions and an Academy Award-winning 1955 film adaptation, starring Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones. If you have never seen Oklahoma! I highly encourage you see this production. It is an excellent introduction to the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, and one of the classics of the American musical theatre that everyone should see.

The plot is a simple one and for the most part revolves around the events of one day. From early morning to late evening, with a story conclusion that takes place some three weeks later, cowboy Curly loves young Laurey and wants to take her to the box lunch social that is set to occur later that evening, but, there’s competition. The farm hand, Jud Fry, has become obsessed with Laurey, and intends to make her his own, by force if necessary.

Director Kate Hicks brought together a talented ensemble (of all ages). There was never a moment when I felt that I was watching actors playing a role. From the veteran actors to the youngest members of the ensemble, each actor in the company was fully invested in the story that they were telling to audiences.

Set Designer Julie Lee successfully transformed the intimate proscenium theatre stage at the Cleburne Conference Center and took audiences to the early 1900’s in the Oklahoma territory, shortly before Oklahoma was established into statehood. Ms. Lee effectively utilized the stage, and was able to create the illusion of Aunt Eller’s farm, and the setting for the Box Lunch Social that will occur later in the story. I am always struck by how scenic designers are able to accomplish in a short amount of time, and with such precision for detail and care.

The scenic elements were just as grand and vast as the wide open spaces of the Oklahoma territory, and provided an excellent backdrop to the actors telling the story. The set was fully of color, and seemed equally as functional for the storytelling without overcomplicating things. There was an intimate approach to detail, and these details did not go unnoticed.

Costumes were designed by Becki Esch. Not only did the costumes compliment the wonderful set design, but, they also painted an idyllic picture of turn of the century farm life in the Oklahoma territory. Ms. Esch used a variety of colors and textures, and allowed each character to have a different look, while also allowing each character to meld together as an ensemble. The colors were bright and pleasant, much like the personalities of many of the characters, and the sprightliness of the story.

Haley Boswell was extraordinary in the role of Laurey, an independent young woman, growing up with Aunt Eller. Through vocal intonation, and facial expressions, Ms. Boswell convincingly played the role that film actress Shirley Jones made famous. Ms. Boswell played the role with confidence, charisma, and grace. From her beautiful singing voice to her delightful innocence and optimism on stage, her performance was truly exceptional, and enjoyable to watch.

Another standout is Andrew Guzman in the role of Curly. Mr. Guzman successfully portrays the young and over confident cowboy, with a stirring affection for Laurey. Mr. Guzman has a nice rapport with Ms. Boswell, and conveys an innocent, and honest affection for her. Mr. Guzman captures audiences from the moment he steps out on stage (“Oh What a Beautiful Morning”) and gives audiences goose bumps with his full voice and optimistic view of rural life-before the hustle and bustle of city life takes over the town of Claremore. Mr. Guzman paints a picture of bucolic bliss in the 1906 Oklahoma territory, and fulfills the responsibility of the protagonist on stage.

Emily Bailey and Justus Peters deserve a huge acknowledgement and praise for their entertaining and humorous relationship as Ado Annie, and Will Parker. Each time Ms. Bailey and Mr. Peters came out on stage, audiences were guaranteed a laugh. Both have an excellent sense of comedic timing, and fantastic facial expressions. One of the most enjoyable moments of the production was Ms. Bailey’s rendition of “I Cain’t Say No!” Both Mr. Peters and Ms. Bailey bring a lighthearted element of romance to the stage, and is a nice contract to the serious and dramatic relationship of Laurey and Curley. Ms. Bailey and Mr. Peters were truly amusing and comical to watch.

Overall, the production had its enjoyable moments. The attention to detail was evident throughout the production. Pacing and energy were high from the moment the overture previews each familiar song. Oklahoma! Is a musical that everyone should see, and is truly a classic. This production will leave you with an enjoyable, and entertaining event of theatrical proportions. If you are looking for classic musical theatre, look no further. This production of Oklahoma! Is more than “OK!”

OKLAHOMA!
Plays through July 9th.

Theatre at the Cleburne Conference Center
1501 W. Henderson Street
Cleburne, Texas 76033

Tickets prices are as follows:
Adult – $15
Seniors/Students – $12

June 30 and July 1, 7, 8 – 7:30 pm
July 1, 2, 8 and 9 – 2:30 pm (Matinees)

For information, or to purchase tickets:
Visit: http://buy.ticketstothecity.com or call: 682-317-3644
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