Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Oklahoma!

Sayer Roberts and Quinn Cartwright (photo credit: Emily Cooper)

by Jay Catterson

Yee haw! Oklahoma!, the first ever show penned by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II that serves as the template for the "book musical", triumphantly two-steps onto the stage of the Massey Theatre. And boy, I tell ya, does this production shine! 

Valerie Easton lovingly directs and choreographs the Royal City Musical Theatre production of this quintessential show, and her genuine passion for the source material shows. The dance numbers dazzle, with complex choreography that is surprisingly executed by this impressive cast on the small Massey stage, and the music direction by James Bryson is tight, boasting a 20-piece orchestra that executes the delightfully memorable score with gusto. 

All the leads in this production are strong, and are backed by a superb ensemble (with the vocals from the female ensemble being especially impressive). Sayer Roberts, with his soaring vocals and handsomely boyish charm, is truly amazing as Curly McLain, and is equally matched by the gorgeous Quinn Cartwright as his love interest, Laurey Williams. Other notable cast standouts include Mark Turpin, who brings a sinister complexity to Jud Fry, Sandra Head as the loveable Aunt Eller, Jaclyn Nestman as the flirty Ado Annie, and Dustin Freeland as peddler Ali Hakim. 

The only gripe I had with this production was the irritating hissing noise coming out of the sound system all evening; however, with a cast and production this strong, I overlooked this minor technical quibble and delighted in the country spectacle before me. Royal City Musical Theatre truly delivers a delightful production, and I highly recommend sashaying on down to the Massey to catch a performance of this beloved musical. Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay! 

Oklahoma runs until April 27 at Massey Theatre

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