Making its debut on Broadway in 1943, Oklahoma! is undoubtedly one of the all-time classic old school musicals, charming, heart-warming and jam packed with the delightful music and lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein, it’s no surprise that the show is still a crowd pleaser even to this day.
Director Rachel Kavanaugh has given this new production a few tweaks to put her stamp on things, combined with charming costume and set designed by Francis O’Connor the show feels revitalised and ready to gain a whole new legion of fans. The story telling comes across particularly strongly, with characters feeling real emotions and on occasion going into pretty dark places for a musical, a credit to Director Rachel Kavanaugh who clearly isn’t afraid to tackle much more than just the familiar choreography and happy endings we’re grown to expect from traditional productions.
The show focuses around the love story of Curly (Ashley Day) and Laurey (Charlotte Wakefield), throw in a little rivalry between cowboys and farmers, the menacing threat of an upset in an attempt to derail their romance and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a fine story.
The leads in this new production are outstanding, Ashley Day, takes on the role of spirited cowboy, Curly, and makes for a perfect leading man. Charlotte Wakefield, compliments him wonderfully as the ballsy and beautiful Laurey. Between them they oose chemistry, playfully teasing each other while pretending not to be head over heels for each other before thrilling us all with a touching rendition of audience favourite ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’. Nic Greenshields makes for a wonderfully menacing hired hand Jud Fry, the utterly convincing villain in this love story. Audience favourite Gary Wilmot as Ali Hakim supplies the laughter with a great comedic performance during wonderfully light hearted scenes with Lucy May Barker who plays nice but dim man loving Ado Annie perfectly.
Throw in Rodgers and Hammerstein classics, ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ ‘I Cain’t Say No!’ and of course the rousing ‘Oklahoma’ some wonderful choreography from Drew McOnie and an excellent ensemble and you’ve got a pretty much perfect piece of theatre.
Showing at The Lowry until Saturday 21st March.