Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: Oklahoma! (UK Tour) at the Derngate Theatre

Oklahoma! (UK Tour)
Derngate Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 23rd February 2015

A classic musical of huge importance, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! may burst with old school charm but it's not all fluff and cheese. The show, which is set in the early 1900s, tells the story of two sets of star-crossed lovers.

Shockingly I had never actually seen Oklahoma! onstage before, yet I still found myself resisting the urge to hum along to its famous and utterly joyous score. It is an iconic show that did big things for musical theatre. 

Rachel Kavanaugh's brand new production has heart and soul; her direction allows you to feel the warmth of the old classic.

Starring as Curly, Ashley Day takes to the stage with charm and charisma, shining opposite Charlotte Wakefield as Laurey. Both Day and Wakefield are exceptional triple threats; they perform scenes with fight and character, sing the score to perfection and dance beautifully together. Most importantly they share strong chemistry and appear to enjoy their time onstage.

Day and Wakefield lead a stellar cast with stand out performances also coming from Nick Greenshields as Jud Fry, Gary Wilmot as Ali Hakim and the sensational Lucy May Barker as Ado Annie whose stage presence is striking. The ensemble are the driving force behind the show, performing with tremendous skill and dedication - nobody takes their eye off the ball.

Drew McOnie's choreography impresses throughout, with the highlight of the night being his exceptional dream ballet sequence which has clearly been nurtured with such care, precision and creativity. Although the set looks a little flimsy and wobbly, it does its job and is neatly adjusted from scene to scene.

Under the direction of Stephen Ridley, the orchestra sounded absolutely mesmerising; the standard of touring theatre is incredible at the moment - I hope people around the UK realise how lucky they are to have such a high quality production right on their doorstep. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Oklahoma! runs at the Derngate Theatre in Northampton until Saturday 28th February and tours the UK & Ireland until August 2015. Please visit www.oklahomatour.co.uk for further info, full tour dates and tickets.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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