Steve Jones as Curly, and Ashleigh Mackness as Laurey. Picture by Peter Boam.
STAGE REVIEWDespite the drizzle and chill outdoors, there was a bright golden haze in Shanklin Theatre last weekend, as Ventnor Theatre Group staged Oklahoma!, as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.
Jam-packed with great musical numbers, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 show was a terrific choice, attracting a healthy audience on opening night, last Friday.
The audience was not disappointed. The lively, colourful, tuneful production, directed by Steve Trasler, proved to be the perfect antidote to the weather.
The cast was well chosen for strong voices and acting talent. The opening number, a delightful rendition of Oh, What A Beautiful Morning from Steve Jones as Curly, set the mood. From the first line, There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow, the audience was humming along happily.
Curly was quickly joined by his love interest, Ashleigh Mackness, as Laurey, and Faye Farrin as Laurey’s Aunt Eller, for another favourite, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top.
Laurey and Curly’s lovely duet, People Will Say We’re In Love, brought smiles to many faces in the audience.
The sing-along songs kept coming. Rosie Curling was cheeky and charming as Ado Annie, and her solo, I Cain’t Say No, was a triumph.
Another strong performance came from Scott Joy as sinister, brooding farmhand Judd Fry, Curly’s love rival. Curly and Judd’s duet, Pore Jud Is Daid, in which Curly tried to persuade Judd to kill himself, was a high point, with hilarious undertones.
Another comic note came from the lecherous Persian pedlar, Ali Hakim, played by John Woodford.
The second act featured two rousing songs for the whole company, The Farmer And The Cowman and the finale, Oklahoma!
An important element in the success of this production was the well-rehearsed, enthusiastic supporting cast of farmers and cowboys, ladies and dancing girls.
The orchestra, directed by Andrew Woodford, also played a key role.