BWW Review: We Cain't Say No to OKLAHOMA! at Broadway At Music Circus
Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration, is a cornerstone of American theatre. According to The New York Times, it "changed the course of the Broadway musical." Groundbreaking in its day of conception, it continues to resonate with audiences of all ages for its timeless music, strong characters, and sharp humor.
Based on the Lynn Riggs' play, Green Grow the Lilacs, Oklahoma! tells the story of Curly McLain, a cowboy who is trying to win the affections of the woman he loves, Laurey Williams. Her hired hand, Jud Fry, is also desperately competing for Laurey's attention and is unstable enough to try underhanded measures. A secondary romance blossoms in the most hilarious way between Laurie's friend, Ado Annie, and her two suitors-the Persian peddler Ali Hakim and the sweet but simple Will Parker.
Broadway at Music Circus continues its tradition of top-notch quality by casting only the best. Ryan Vasquez, who wears the role of Curly like a comfortable cloak, has taken a break from playing Alexander Hamilton (and 4 other roles) on Broadway to join us here in Sacramento. Opening the show with the iconic "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", Vasquez takes you back to rural 1907 Oklahoma with his faultless vibrato. Close your eyes and you'd swear he was singing you a lullaby. His rival, John Rapson as the villainous Jud Fry, brings an equally talented take to the antithesis of Curly's chivalry. A show highlight is when they parry, by increasing degrees of hostility, in the adroitly written "Pore Jud is Daid." The object of their desire, Laurey, is played by a sweetly innocent Emilie Kouatchou, who really hits her stride with "People will Think We're in Love."
The comic powerhouses of the show never stop delivering the punches. Jennifer Allen, whose Broadway credits include Sister Act and Cats, zaps the sassy and salty right into Aunt Eller and takes complete charge in "The Farmer and the Cowman." Music Circus and Broadway veteran Jeff Skowron's Ali Hakim is a study in deadpan humor and is probably relatable to every married man in the audience who wishes (of course, only once in a while) for some solitude. Brit West as Ado Annie is...adorable. Confused and perky and cute, how could she possibly decide on one man when they are all so...male?
The always-masterful ensemble at Broadway at Music Circus completes the show with its dynamic numbers, choreographed by director Linda Goodrich. There is the lively tap-infused two-step of "Kansas City" and the myriad of styles during the "Dream Ballet." The title number, "Oklahoma," brings fresh energy to Act Two. Did I mention the gaggle of cowboys? Our local treasure has done it again and this show is definitely worth another look...or two.
Tickets for Oklahoma! start at $45 and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at BroadwaySacramento.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, June 25-29, at 7:30 p.m.; matinee performances are Thursday, June 27 and Saturday, June 29 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 30 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, visit BroadwaySacramento.com.
Photo credit: Charr Crail