Review Roundup: OKLAHOMA! at Goodspeed Musicals

"People will say we're in love" with this wild western cast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved Oklahoma! Having directed last summer's hit Bye Bye Birdie Jenn Thompson returns to Goodspeed to take on the show that changed American musicals forever. For the first time at Goodspeed, this country classic will welcome city slickers, cowboys and everyone in between! So kick up your boots and join us for this lively and legendary musical which runs now through September 23 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn. The show opens tonight, August 2, and BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below!

Cowboy Curly and farm girl Laurey are taking their sweet time falling in love. Can these stubborn romantics admit their feelings before it's too late? Passion, laughter and high-kicking choreography blossom in a land where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain. A legendary score-including "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and the rousing title tune-will put you in a brand new state!

Oklahoma! features music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and is based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs. Original dances by Agnes De Mille. Oklahoma! will be sponsored by Liberty Bank, Updike, Kelly & Spellacy P.C. and Robinson+Cole.

Curly will be played by Rhett Guter who will be returning to The Goodspeed after charming fans as Conrad Birdie in last summer's hit Bye Bye Birdie. Laurey will be played by Samantha Bruce who performed Off-Broadway in The Fantasticks.

Aunt Eller will be played by Terry Burrell who performed Swinging on a Star first at Goodspeed Musicals and then on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include Dreamgirls and Into the Woods. She has performed in the National Touring companies of Copacabana and Show Boat.

Will Parker will be played by Jake Swain who returns to The Goodspeed after performing as Harvey Johnson in Bye Bye Birdie. Ado Annie will be played by Gizel Jimenez who starred in The Theory of Relativity at The Terris Theater in 2015. Her Off-Broadway credits include Big River for City Center ENCORES!, Party People at The Public Theater and Unseamly at Urban Stages. Gizel starred as Anna in Disney's Frozen - Live at the Hyperion. She performed as Rosalia in the First National Tour of West Side Story.

Andrew Carnes will be played by C. Mingo Long who performed in Purile and House of Flowers at City Center ENCORES!. He has also performed in the National Tours of Parade and Les Misérables.

Ali Hakim will be played by Matthew Curiano whose National Tour credits include Ragtime and Camelot. Jud Fry will be played by Matt Faucher who is returning to The Goodspeed after performing in Camelot. He performed in the First National Tour of Beautiful The Carole King Musical.

Oklahoma! will be directed Jenn Thompson. Choreography will be by Katie Spelman. Scenic design will be by Wilson Chin. Costume design will be by Tracey Christensen. Lighting design will be by Philip Rosenberg. Sound design will be by Jay Hilton. Wig and Hair design will be by Mark Adam Rampmeyer. The Music Director will be Michael O'Flaherty. Casting for Oklahoma! is by Paul Hardt of Stewart Whitley Casting.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

BroadwayWorld (Joseph Harrison): As previously noted, the dancing in this production is exceptional. Katie Spelman's choreography takes full use of the small stage and conveys a sense of kinetic energy that is palpable. The sets by Wilson Chin are absolutely breathtaking. From the farm to Jud Fry's smokehouse, Mr. Chin's sets perfectly illustrate the architecture and simple beauty of the time. The Oklahoma sky changes gloriously from sunrise to sunset, due to Philip S. Rosenberg's nimble lighting, and Tracy Christensen's costumes are the perfect mix of gingham and leather conveying a sense of reality to the characters on stage. Finally, the music, as orchestrated by Dan DeLange and directed by Michael O'Flaherty, as always, was excellent.

Courant (Christopher Arnott): Some warm, human performances guide this show, but some slick design work frames it nicely. There are nice sound-design moments (designed by Jay Hilton), when every time a gun goes off you hear a dog barking in the distance. The scenic design by Wilson Chin is all glorious brown wooden walls, blue skies, and a corn field. Sets that fill the whole stage glide in swiftly. In fact, the smooth transitions from scene to scene give this "Oklahoma!" much of its momentum.

Patch.com (Nancy Sasso Janis): Gizel Jimenez was quite adorable as the flirtatious Ado Annie and C. Mingo Long, who appeared as Samuel in the Off-Broadway production of 'Liberty the Musical,' was most effective as her father Andrew Carnes. Jake Swain (Harvey Johnson in 'Bye Bye Birdie) was energetic as Will Parker. There was not a weak link in the ensemble which included Kelly Berman (dance captain) as Sylvie, Morgan Cowling as Kate, Lauren Csete as Carolyn, Tamrin Goldberg as Vivian, Kate Arrington Johnson as the laughing Gertie, Madison Turner as Virginia and Olivia Nicole Hoffman ('Romeo and Juliet' at Hartford Stage) as Emma.


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