On Tuesday evening Holly and I had the great pleasure of going to watch Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! at The Bristol Hippodrome. I love this city of ours and The Hippodrome is a beautiful building so any excuse to visit and I’m there. For occasional theatre-goers such as ourselves it really is thrilling walking through the doors into the plush theatre to take your seat and eagerly await the show.
Oklahoma! is set in 1906 midwest America. There are a couple of references throughout the show pertaining to the unrest in the region and imminent reform in 1907 when Oklahoma and Indian territories unified forming the 46th state of the union.
The main storyline opens with the well-known ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’’ and focuses on Curly’s attempts at wooing his, at times, indifferent sweetheart laurey. Curly is played by the rather dreamy Ashley Day whose singing and dancing were impeccable in equal measure, a real cheeky chappy with a twinkle in his eye and a pleasure to watch! Laurey, played brilliantly by the beautiful Charlotte Wakefield. Holly (a music student) was completely in awe of her crystal clear voice and sassy demeanour.
Laurey’s reluctance at making her own feelings known to Curly land her in some pretty hot water when she ends up agreeing to ride to the box-social with hired hand, Jud, a rather menacing and devious character but you feel sorry for him all the same. Jud is played by a giant of a man-Nic Greenshields, with the most amazing deep baritone voice. He brought a real pathos to the role and watching his heartfelt performance unfold was a joy.
I found the whole sinister, and sexually obsessive nature of Jud’s character fascinating amidst an otherwise perky musical. I wasn’t expecting the dark undertone and can see that Oklahoma! would have been a completely groundbreaking musical of its time.
The light-relief characters are Laurey’s Aunt Eller, a gritty but lovable woman played by the wonderfully talented Belinda Lang. Gary Wilmot who brings humour to the role of peddler Ali Hakim. Hakim, a travelling man spends the entirety of the show trying to escape an unwanted marriage that he was coerced into by the overly flirtatious yet gullible Ado Annie Carnes. Lucy May Barker takes on this role displaying impeccable comedic timing that makes her an absolute dream to watch and she brought the house down with laughs on more than one occasion.
Oklahoma! is an absolute joy; all-American bubbly fun with a dark and clever undertone. For a brilliant night out at the theatre where you will walk away whistling the tunes from the show, this one comes highly recommended from us!
*we were kindly gifted tickets to watch Oklahoma! for the purposes of this review. All thoughts are as always my own.