BWW Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S OKLAHOMA!

BWW Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S OKLAHOMA!

Brilliantly ending their spectacular 10th season, Long Island's John W. Engeman Theatre offers a great incarnation of the iconic, game-changing musical Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!. Excellently directed by Engeman vet Igor Goldin, this production runs through June 25th at the gorgeous Northport venue. The cast is truly outstanding and the whole production is well done.

Based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play Green Grow The Lilacs, this story, set at the turn of the 20th century, follows Laurey as she grapples with her feelings for Curly and Jud. Marking the first time the two legendary composers worked together, the score for this show includes several very familiar pop culture hits including "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'" and the iconic title number. To add, an audience favorite is the illustrious ballet scene closing Act I.

Kaitlyn Davidson splendidly portrays Laurey, a sassy, independent farmgirl working on her Aunt Eller's ranch. Ms. Davidson makes a great Laurey with a fiery disposition and head strong demeanor. Speaking of Aunt Eller, Jane Blass is terrific in the role of the respected community leader. Her one liners bring many laughs. Bryant Martin portrays Curly, a cowboy who is in love with Laurey. Ms. Davidson and Mr. Martin make a great team especially when they adorably tease each other when we first meet them. Jud, a worker on Aunt Eller's farm, is portrayed by Nathaniel Hackmann in a return engagement to the Engeman. Jud is very mysterious... a loaner; and he is exceedingly enamored by Laurey. Mr. Hackmann's intense and chilling take on Jud is superb. Also a highlight is Danny Gardner as Persian peddler Ali Hakim who brings many laughs throughout the show. And Brianne Kennedy is also stellar as the sweet, but ditzy (and easy), Ado Annie.

On Mr. Goldin's creative team, DT Willis' set is ideal. The Engeman's is already a good size stage to begin with, but Mr. Willis' set makes it look larger. This is enhanced beautifully by Zach Blane's lighting and Laura Shubert's sound design is top-notch. Additionally, most of Matthew Solomon's are stunning, but, personally, I wasn't over the moon with some of the designs on the dresses. Style-wise they were pretty - I love a full skirt - but the designs seem rather unadorned. But other than that little quibble, the whole production is visually exquisite.

And so, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! is indeed another hit for the John W. Engeman Theatre and a wonderful end to their season. Is this show produced frequently? Perhaps. But this fantastic cast and clever creative team certainly make this showing a must see for the season.

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Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through June 25th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com

Directed by Igor Goldin (Engeman Theater: 1776, Memphis, West Side Story, The Producers, Evita, Twelve Angry Men, South Pacific; Off Broadway: YANK!, With Glee, A Ritual of Faith, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Crossing Swords), Choreography by Drew Humphrey (Engeman Theater: White Christmas (Choreographer) , Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line (Director)), Musical Direction by Jeff Theiss (Broadway: Book Of Mormon - Rehearsal Pianist, Keyboard 2 sub, Conductor sub; Off Broadway: The Band's Visit; Regional: Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), Assistant Director is Trey Compton (Engeman Theater: South Pacific, Twelve Angry Men, The Music Man, Evita, The Producers, West Side Story; Off-Broadway: YANK!, White's Lies). Associate Choreographer is Kelly Sheehan (Engeman Theater: A Chorus Line (Sheila); Broadway: 42nd Street (Lorraine), Irving Berlin's White Christmas)

Scenic Design by DT Willis, Costume Design by Matthew Solomon, Lighting Design by Zach Blane, Sound Design by Laura Shubert, Wig Design by Kurt Alger, Casting by Gayle Seay and Scott Wojcik and Holly Buczek of Wojcik/Seay Casting, Props Design by Suzanne Mason, Stage Management by Sean Francis Patrick, and Assistant to Stage Manager is Leila Scandar

Starring Bryant Martin (Regional: The Last Ship at Pioneer Theatre Company, Phantom at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Oklahoma! at Musical Theatre West & Lyric Stage, 1776 at Lyric Stage, First Date at the Mason Street Warehouse, Shenandoah at Totem Pole Playhouse, Gentleman Volunteers for the Pig Iron Theatre Company and Sedition at the Westport Country Playhouse), Kaitlyn Davidson (Broadway: Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Nice Work If You Can Get It; National Tour: Ella in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Judy in Irving Berlin's White Christmas; Regional: Signature Theatre, Riverside Theatre, The Cape Playhouse, American Repertory Theatre, The Marriott Theatre, The Maltz Jupiter) and Nathaniel Hackmann (Engeman Theater: Jekyll & Hyde (Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde); Broadway/National Tours: Les Miserables (Valjean, Javert u/s), Paint Your Wagon (Steve); Regional: Beauty And The Beast at MUNY (Gaston), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Carousel, Ragtime, Into the Woods, Camelot, Sanders Family Christmas, Bye Bye Birdie).

Featuring Jane Blass (Engeman Theater: Mary Poppins, Oliver!; Broadway: Mrs. Greer/Miss Hannigan u/s in Annie; Broadway Tours: Prudy/Female Authority Figure in Hairspray, Margaret/Violet u/s in 9 To 5), Chris Brand (Engeman Theater: Mary Poppins (Bert); National Tour: Disney's Beauty And The Beast) and BriAnne Kennedy (National/International Tour: Annie (Lilly u/s); Regional: Les Miserables, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde).

With Sari Alexander, Charles Baran, Robert Budnick, Danny Gardner, Zach Hawthorne, Tyler Huckstep, Kaitlyn Mayse, Kim McClay, Danny Mchugh, Nick Miller, Kaitlin Nelson, Meghan Nicole Ross, Connor Schwantes, Kelly Sheehan, and Michael J. Verre

Photo by Michael DeCristofaro. Pictured are Bryant Martin and Kaitlyn Davidson

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