Skip to main content

Review of Oklahoma! at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

My musical theatre crash course continued this week with Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! Although it came with the territory of sitting in a theatre seemingly more often than at home, its safe to say that the musical side of it has been one of the greater revelations. Having now seen more musicals in the last few months than I had in the proceeding thirty seven years, I have sort of been converted.

Oklahoma! like the exceptional South Pacific I saw last year was entirely new to me as a complete package. However like SP, many of the tunes were well known from, well somewhere I know not. From the uplifting and heart rising "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'" to the bold and celebratory Oklahoma! itself, these songs were classics even if I had never seen the package they were weaved around.

For myself there was also the comfort blanket of two actors who had very much been about during my time growing up. Both the effortless Gary Wilmot and the delightful Belinda Lang, while far from the lead characters of the musical bought a glow from yesteryear for me. The long remembered comic timing of the pair were still there glowing. They have many of the funnier lines which helps of course, particular Wilmot's character Ali Hakim when he is trying to avoid getting love trapped, "You mind your own business!" Lang's Aunt Eller also has a pitch perfect classic moment wielding that shotgun.

My two stars however are the support in Oklahoma!, as the true leads are the younger members of the company. They are also quality throughout. From the opening moments Ashley Day as Curly and his performance of "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'" to his sparring with the wonderful tomboy Laurey (as excellent feisty Charlotte Wakefield) commands the scenes he is in. Well except perhaps those with Nic Greenshields, because in those, the tall and menacing actor portrays the baddie of the piece Jud Fry with a vice grip. The scene in his shed where at first Day is in charge, soon becomes Fry's and his performance of "Lonely Room" for me is exceptional. The final star I would mention is Lucy May Barker as Ado Annie Carnes. Her turn is comic at high velocity as she seeks a man, another man, and one more, and then another. "I Cain't Say No!" is performed superbly, hysterically and bloomer flashing gloriously!

The choreographer from Drew McOnie is also exceptional. The highlight without doubt the exceptionally complex dream sequence, fusing ballet, contemporary and bum on bale rolling sounds odd, but works as a visual feast. Spinning through the happy dream to the nightmarish end, it is without doubt the highlight of the show.

So once again I have been won over by a musical and I suspect that this fine version of the classic is going to fill an awful lot of seats as it progresses through its twenty-one stop tour. There certainly isn't any reason I can see not to see it. Indeed it would be a scandal if you missed it!


«««««

Performance reviewed: Wednesday 25th February, 2015 (matinee) at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Oklahoma! is on at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 28th February, 2015 before touring until the 8th August, 2015. Details can be found at http://www.oklahomatour.co.uk/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …

Review of Blood Brothers at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

A theatre in the east midlands, a thousand people stand applauding and cheering towards a stage where fourteen people stand. There on the stage, they bow, and bow, an inordinate number of times. They depart after a time and the lights come up over the capacity audience.

So did you hear the story of the Blood Brothers show, how people flocked and came to see them play?
Did you never hear about how we came to be, standing applauding the brightly lit stage this November day?
Come judge for yourselves how this night did come to be.

Blood Brothers was a significant show for me back in 2014, being the first musical that I saw live. Hiding up in the upper circle of the Derngate back then, not really sure what to expect, it was it turned out perhaps the perfect show to graduate me from play to musical that I could choose as Willy Russell's gritty and solid story is as confident as a straight play that perhaps any musical is. So strong is the story of the Johnstone's twins, that it liv…