Review Roundup: OKLAHOMA! at Pittsburgh CLO - What Did The Critics Think?
Pittsburgh CLO will fill the Benedum Center with the soaring melodies of America's favorite musical, OKLAHOMA!. Tickets are now available by phone at 412-456-6666, online at pittsburghCLO.org or by visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.
Making their Pittsburgh CLO debuts as cowboy Curly and strong willed farm girl Laurey are Broadway's Nicholas Rodriguez and Sara Jean Ford. Mr. Rodriguez made his Broadway debut in Disney's Tarzan and has traveled the world on tours of Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus), Evita (Che), Hair (Claude) and The Sound of Music (Captain Von Trapp). Ms. Ford is best known for starring as Christine Daa on Broadway and in the National Tour of the worldwide sensation The Phantom Of The Opera. Fresh off of Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Matt Faucher also joins the cast as the sinister farm hand, Jud, and Broadway veteran Ruth Gotschall (Disney's Mary Poppins, The Music Man, Cabaret) will be portraying the fun-loving Aunt Eller.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Jade Goodes, Pittsburgh in the Round: I enjoyed the cast of Oklahoma!thoroughly, and thought thecast brought a ton of fun and energy to the production. A standout to me wasCurly, played by Nicholas Rodriguez. He is especially charming as the male lead of the show, and captures you from the get go with hisdeep, rich voice. Ruth Gottschall, who plays Aunt Eller, was such a delight to watch on stage. She brings tonsof sass to the character, and had the audience laughing on many occasions. I honestly wouldn't have minded if the entire show was about Aunt Eller. Ashley Blanchett was adorable and charming as Ado Annie. It's easy to want to compare her to Ali Stroker, who recently won a Tony for herportrayal in the revival, but Blanchett brings her own charm to the character and ends up being a bright light in the production. I also enjoyed Matt Faucher as Jud Fry. As dark as the character can be, Faucher brings very real emotions to the characterthat make you sympathize withhim. His rendition of "Lonely Room" makes you feel how sad, alone, and ostracized Jud is. With that being said, Jud is not a character you root for by any means. I was genuinelycreeped out and on edge anytime he was on stage because I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. With Jud especially you could see how the revival could take the darkness of the show and amplify it tenfold
Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The leads - Carnegie Mellon University grad Sara Jean Ford as Laurey and Nicholas Rodriguez as cowboy Curly - have lovely voices and an easy attraction. At the center of everyone's business is Ruth Gottschall, a fiery, funny Aunt Eller. The choreography by Mark Esposito, echoing the original by Agnes De Mille, is crisp and joyful. That ethereal dream scene hits the right notes of light and dark, with Allison Walsh and Blake Zelesnikar floating through the balletic landscape. Yet the dark side of "Oklahoma!" fascinates. Matt Faucher, as Jud Frye, brings his true bass to a powerful version of "Lonely Room," letting the audience glimpse the desperation of a man exuding toxic masculinity. In Jud's pursuit of a woman, violence is an option.
Emily Wolfe, Pittsburgh CIty Paper: Pittsburgh CLO's production is the "classic" version of the 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein hit, not the sexy, modernized revivalthat took home two Tony Awards earlier this month. ThisOklahoma! carries you through its two-and-a-half hour runtime with the buoyant earnestness it's always had. And, as they always have, the darker, sharper edges of the musical are lurking just behind that earnestness.