Review: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! at The Mayflower Theatre (05/05/14)


A truly amazing spectacle turning a classic musical in to one for the masses, an absolute must see starring some great musical theatre stars.

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Oklahoma!, a musical I hadn’t seen before and was completely unfamiliar with so it’s safe to say I didn’t really have any expectations, but the cast one hundred per cent pulled it off leaving me with a smile on my face after an enjoyable evening of entertainment.

Oklahoma!, the first musical written by famous duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, is set in 1906 the year before the region became the 46th state of the Union. It tells the story of Curly (Ashley Day) and his love interest Laurey (Charlotte Wakefield) as he battles for her affections against Jud Fry (Nic Greenshields). While the show centers around the comedic aspects of romance we get that hint of desperation for love and attention, a well rounded story that any could follow.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

The cast were fantastic, Day (Book of Mormon and High School Musical) flows through songs with ease, hits the accent perfectly and shows off his dance ability even with a slight technical malfunction during the closing scenes of act one involving a ripped pair of trousers. Wakefield (Spring Awakening and Mamma Mia!) is just as technically magnificent hitting the nail on the head when it comes to comedy and sincerity enabling the audience to build a relationship with Laurey, something I rarely find in more modern musicals. Day and Wakefield together form the perfect couple and their rendition of ‘People Will Say We’re In Love’ was a true highlight. Aunt Eller (Belinda Lang, 2point4 Children) couldn’t have been played by anyone else, Lang was a joy to watch and one person I couldn’t keep my eyes off. The star performance however came from Lucy May Barker (Spring Awakening) as Ado Annie, her performance was flawless gliding through ‘I Cain’t Say No!’ with ease as well as her character being at 100% throughout.

Perhaps the most astounding part of the performance was the set. For a touring production I have never seen a set quite like it with cast undertaking scene changes fluidly without hiccup as well as the sky line at the back of the stage bringing a sense of time and setting. Clad entirely in wood this is definitely the best set I have seen used on a Mayflower stage. Francis O’Connor clearly had ambition and vision with this set and I hope more touring productions have the courage to do what Oklahoma! have done on this tour.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Rachel Kavanaugh (Director) and Drew McOnie (Choreographer) have put together something special. Oklahoma! has the tag of being an old musical for the older generation but Kavanaugh and McOnie have made this a musical for the masses and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this tour extended or even creep back on to the West End for a well deserved revival. What a spectacle Oklahoma! is and continues to be, it’s hard to believe it’s a touring production. This limited run is likely to sell out, grab your tickets while you can and enjoy this musical classic.

Oklahoma! runs until 09/05/15 and tickets can be purchased here or from the theatre directly.


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