THE COLOUR and energy of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic Oklahoma has been brought to the stage this week by local theatre arts school Song Shop.
The team’s first musical, the show is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams, while a secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.
The show opens to the strains of Curly’s (Nick Tomlinson) rendition of ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ as he comes calling to the farm owned by Aunt Eller (Kirsten Tomlinson). He hopes to charm her niece Laurey (Shannon McGlynn) into accompanying him to the Box Social.
He has competition for her attention in the shape of menacing farm hand Jud Fry (Chris Tomlinson) who has already asked Laurey to accompany him. A more humorous love triangle ensues when Ado Annie, the girl who ‘Cain’t Say No’, is torn between her long-suffering beau, the intellectually challenged cowboy Will Parker (Haig Cruickshank), and licentious travelling salesman Ali Hakim (Matthew Tomlinson). And when Curly “takes up” with Gertie Cummins (Vannessa Gove) Laurey is irritated with not only her presence but her grating laugh.
Adding to the rivalry between the Cowboys and Farmers as they fight over the territory once occupied by the Indians, is the cantankerous Andrew Carnes (Graeme Baird). Carnes’ and Aunt Eller’s delivery of “The Farmer and the Cowman” at the start of Act Two packs a punch, literally and metaphorically. Lee McLean (Ike) and Craig Smith (Slim) complete the principal cast.
The show is packed with well-known melodies, and combines comedy, sentiment and tension to great effect. The choreography is energetic and challenging and still has the same classic feel as it had at its first performance in 1943. An enthusiastic cast ranging in age from three upwards forms the backbone of this production.
Oklahoma runs until Saturday in Montrose Town Hall, with evening performances at 7.30pm and a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are available from Henry Hogg Newsagent on the High Street.