Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
Irving Stage Company
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Since first being staged in 1943, Oklahoma! has become a favourite with musical theatre goers across the world. Back then the show did something that was new; it blended song, character, plot and dance, something that today we take for granted, if not subliminally expect.
This Irving Stage Production does not seek to do anything avant-garde with the love story between Curly and Laurey. The original work does not require much embellishment, although the original twenty-five-minute dream sequence that closes the first act has been curtailed.
Most will know of the show’s opening song “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”. How daunting must it be then, to have to walk on stage singing this, before the audience has had a chance to get to know the key players? Ben Child as Curley had this daunting task, and acquitted himself well. Soon we were all tapping our toes and swaying along to all the well known songs.
He was soon joined by Tess Smith as Laurey, whose voice was a treat to listen to throughout the show. There are in fact two love stories in this show and before long we were engaged by the girl who can’t say no: Ado Annie (Emily Smith) and her beau, the charming but dim Will Young (Ben Parker).
We thoroughly enjoyed the completely over the top stage screech that was Girtie Cunningham’s laugh – kudos to Alana Self for making us cringe at that sound! Humour was ever present when Nic Metcalfe as the peddler Ali Hakim took to the stage.
It seems unfair to select just a few names for comment, as all of the cast played their parts to perfection, ably supported by the 19 man orchestra buried deep beneath the stage in, what I am assured, was a warm and cosy pit.
The show runs until Saturday 25th March after which the players will return to their day jobs, no doubt like us, humming the show’s tunes to the bemusement f their work colleagues.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]We should not dismiss the work of amateur dramatic companies across the country. They were once looked upon as something that existed in the shadow of the professionals. What such groups do is provide an opportunity for would be actors to hone their skills and produce shows that keep our theatres alive with song and laughter. For that they need us to turn up and join in.[/box]