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Oklahoma! (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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You 'cain’t' say no to UK Productions’ Oklahoma! featuring Marti Webb as the wise and down-to-earth Aunt Eller.Yet sadly, this zestful version of the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about romance among feuding farmers and cowmen, doesn’t have much to differentiate it from amateur productions I have seen.

It is all much as expected with few surprises. Nevertheless, Gemma Sutton gives a fine performance as shy farm girl, Laurey, as do Mark Evans and Pete Gallagher as rival beaus, Curly and Jud. Likewise, the chorus is expertly guided by choreographer, Chris Hocking. They dance to the highest standard, especially in the dream scene at the end of Act 1 and the title number, “Oklahoma!” I especially like the male dancers for their energy alone.

The baritone voice of Evans and the sweet soprano sound of Sutton singing “People Will Say We’re in Love” is a spine-tingling moment, well accompanied by a seven piece live orchestra. There is also a great deal of good humour in stage, most of it comes from Vas Constanti as Ali Hakim who vies with Joseph Pitcher’s dim-witted Will Parker for the love of Michelle Crook’s man-mad Ado Annie.

The set is designed by Julian Woolford who also directs the show. His realistic farm is followed by an equally impressive smokehouse as well as a barn and grove.

The show’s exceptionally good dance routines are the saving grace that lift it from the run of the mill.

- Julia Taylor


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