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Letchworth Arcadians is one of the premiere amateur operatic societies in the East of England.
30th November 2020

NODA review of Oklahoma!

Vicki Avery has sent through her report of Oklahoma following her attendance at the show on Friday evening.

Society:                       Letchworth Arcadians            

Production:                  Oklahoma      

Director:                      David Walker

MD                              Graham Albone

Choreography             Frances Aylin

Venue:                         St Christopher School Theatre          

Date of Review:          03/06/2016     

Reviewer:                    Vicki Avery

                                    NODA East District 9

As soon as the lights came up I was very impressed by the very effective setting and scenery.

The scenic design had captured the essence of ‘Oklahoma’ in a few simple pieces. Oklahoma the evergreen R & H musical really is as old as the hills, but the director managed to find a freshness which combined with the romantic pairing of Laurey and Curley, produced a delightful and successful show.

The lighting was good, nicely bright for sunny Oklahoma, and dark and menacing when necessary and I liked the pseudo-cloud effect, which gave us that fresh early morning feel.

The sound for dialogue was clear and strong and the orchestra never overpowered the singers.

The costumes were mostly effective, although I would have wished for more differentiation between the Farmers and the Cowmen, they really all looked the same and the men’s boots were lovely but ‘Oh so Clean!’

The orchestra, under the experienced baton of Graham Albone made a good sound.

The sound was full, mellow and quite large enough and just right to accompany the soloists and chorus.

The choreography was excellent, designed to suit the abilities of all members of the company, no one looked out of place.

I enjoyed the ‘ballet’ very much. Simple performed well is better than complex and beyond performer’s abilities. Dream Laurey (Libby Eblett) and Dream Curly (Chris Blackman) both danced well showing good technique and musicality. Well done.

David Walker did well to direct within the constraints of the width and depth of the stage. He avoided the ‘Let’s update’ it trap and went for fresh, clean, clear storytelling at its best.

The pick-up on cues in the first half was a little slow at times but the pace increased in the second half, which in a long show is very necessary.

I saw a show that varied little from the author and composers intention but this classic period drama/musical had a real fresh and modern feel.

The company worked well and enthusiastically, real team effort

.Curley, (Simon Latter) sang the opening number ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’’ beautifully you knew that all the subsequent songs to be sung by him would be of the same high standard. His voice was perfect for the role of Curley matched by his confident, quality acting. His duets with Laurey were superb as was ‘Pore Jud is Daid’, with Jud Fry.

Laurey, (Lucy Walker) Oh such a ‘sparky’ temperament here, well done. She was delightful as Laurey portraying all the varying emotions perfectly. With a lovely pure, clear singing voice the part suited this actress very well.

Ado Annie, (Gilly MacKilligan). I loved this performance; a real flair for comedy, your comic timing was excellent which combined with an excellent voice and good movement I couldn’t fault. Your scenes with Ali Hakim were a delight. Be careful not to over use the facial expressions, let the audience do the hard work. Your rendition of ‘I Cain’t say No’ was terrific.

Will Parker, (Craig Prutton). It stretched my imagination to believe that this very slight Will Parker was a wiz with a lasso and good at riding broncos’ and herding steers, but as a singer and dancer I couldn’t fault him. It was obvious that Craig Prutton had great fun playing Will Parker his exuberant performance was so impressive as were his lively, acrobatic dance routines. Very entertaining.

Aunt Eller, (Elizabeth Shaw) whom I understand took over the role at the last minute, gave a very well defined character, just the right amount of fierceness and softness, a lovely performance.

Ali Hakin (Robert Driver) Unfortunately for everyone else, this Ali Hakim stole the show. This was a wonderful performance from a talented actor with superb comic timing. His execution of ‘It’s a Scandal’ was great. He made me ‘lol’!

Jud Fry, (Clive Dancey) What a disturbingly effective portrayal of this tortured man. The sinister portrayal, obsequious niceness and anger made my flesh crawl. A good performance from a reliable and enthusiastic performer.

Andrew Carnes, (Roger Newman Turner) gave a creditable performance as the grouchy father of Ado Annie and it was good to see Emily Woodhouse learning her craft as Gertie Cummings. I shall be interested to see how this young actress progresses in the future.

Congratulations to you all and thank you for your hospitality.

Vicki Avery District 9