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More praise for Oklahoma! at D.C.’s Arena Stage – raves from Bloomberg News!

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith, opened as the inaugural production at the Mead Center for American Theater ( Fichandler Theater, SW, Washington, DC).  The production received critical raves and is playing as a limited engagement through December 26th, 2010.

Bloomberg news

Frisky Pioneers Jazz D.C. ‘Oklahoma!’

By Jeremy Gerard

Rating: *** (= Excellent!)

The turbo-charged, romantic revival of “Oklahoma!” that opens in Washington this week may boast of a surrey with the fringe on top. But it has ants in its pants, too.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein perennial was a gutsy choice for artistic director Molly Smith. But the $135-million Mead Center for American Theater — that’s the fancy new name for D.C.’s venerable, now lavishly revitalized Arena Stage — deserved a big, celebratory show.

Smith, 58 and now in her 12th season as artistic director, has put just enough spin on things to make “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” sound fresh.

She was determined to cast a company that “looks like the city we live in,” not to mention the Indian Territory itself at the turn of the last century. She brought in Eugene Lee to design the sets (you know his work if you watch “Saturday Night Live” or have seen “Wicked”), which have an attractively unfinished, rough-hewn quality.

Floating Band

Lee puts the frontier all around us, stashing the pit band in a skeletal, half-built schoolhouse floating above the audience and opposite a metal-bladed windmill.

That leaves the central playing area clear for all sorts of inventiveness in a show that asks the compelling question: Who will get to take Laurey Williams to the box social — dreamy, clean-cut cowboy Curly McLain or furtive, dirty-picture-loving farmhand Jud Fry?

When Jud’s cramped, creepy smokehouse digs pop up from below, he’s surrounded by Real! Live! Girls! in their unmentionables, 3-D versions of the “French” photo cards he collects. Aaron Ramey delivers Jud’s electrifying ballad “Lonely Room” like a caged tiger ready to pounce….



Visit http://www.arenastage.org for more information.

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