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Oklahoma!

Published Tuesday 10 June 2008 at 10:40 by James Green

This is the first musical in five years that Martin Costello has presented at the Broadway.

Never mind Oh What a Beautiful Morning. The evening is equally delightful with the wind coming over the plains matched by the sound of audience clapping and non-stop cheering.

Thom Southerland, a rising talent among directors for his acclaimed productions of Annie Get Your Gun and The Pajama Game, auditioned 1,000 actors for the 16-roles. Three of them come from a seven-piece band to join the action.

The good news for supporters of the south east London theatre is that Southerland has already agreed to present Mack and Mabel and Kiss Me Kate there later on. Judging by the current show, that suggests more sell-outs.

Opening with Beautiful Morning and closing on the rousing Oklahoma! anthem, this is a musical that can do no wrong. Yet there is an anecdote about the New York opening that the tour reviews of “No girls, no gags, no chance” changed to “No tickets”.

It is a team show and all involved can take credit, but there are some stand-out roles and performances.

Karl Clarkson has the big build and bigger voice (fond memories of Howard Keel) for the male lead of Curly, while Stephanie Nielson as Laurey, his reluctant girlfriend, sings equally well.

She could improve her impact by raising her voice at times because we want to hear the points she is making.

Rope-spinning Chris Love catches the eye with his dancing and confident personality and Jenny Bade makes a big contribution as his girlfriend - the girl who can’t say no.

Nick Whitley is always prominent as a Jewish pedlar who knows that a good profit is better than a good girl.

Pearl Marsland is totally at home as lovable Aunt Eller, the wise matron who has seen it all, and Georgi Wooderson does wonders with a wicked laugh.

A final mention for the villain of the piece. That’s Jacob Chapman as jealous Jud, Curly’s rival for Laurey, who sings up an ovation at one point.

You could argue that the ground-breaking musical is an obvious winner. And you’d be right.

Production information

Broadway, Catford, June 4-29

Authors:
Richard Rodgers (music), Oscar Hammerstein (book and lyrics)
Director:
Thom Southerland
Producers:
Thom Southerland, Martin Costello
Cast includes:
Karl Clarkson, Stephanie Nielson, Pearl Marsland
Running time:
2hrs 10mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15
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