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.
A grand new state: You just cain’t say no to Arena Stage’s ‘Oklahoma!’
By Peter Marks
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 6, 2010
What a perfect time for a theater to hit its stride. Arena Stage’s “Oklahoma!” is quite simply an enchantment — a triumphant wave on which the venerable company rides back into its refurbished home on the Washington waterfront.
The show’s got life, humor, heart. Director Molly Smith infuses a musical that sometimes can come across as a nostalgia piece with the energy of a new age, with the gifts of a cast whose faces reflect the America of this moment. Her exciting take — reinforced grandly in Parker Esse’s superb choreography — touches on the uplift you feel merely walking into Arena’s newly glittering complex, itself a representation of the nation’s optimistic impulse for reinvention.
“Country’s changing, and we got to change with it!,” Curly, in the charming guise of Nicholas Rodriguez, confides to his prairie love, Laurey, portrayed with a beguiling earthiness by Eleasha Gamble. It might seem that in casting a Latino and an African American as the lead couple, Smith has placed Curly’s line in italics too deliberately. But not only is there some historical support for these choices, it’s also a fact that each of them sings like a dream. In the benevolent land of opportunity that is conjured here, they’ve earned these jobs, on merit.
And their performances are cushioned by the most astutely assembled cast Arena has rounded up for a musical in years. As the show’s comic couple, the dopey but devoted Will Parker and the overeager object of his affection, Ado Annie, the sublime Cody Williams and June Schreiner come this close to upstaging the main-event love story. Williams executes a two-step as sharply as he sings, and with the help of the male ensemble, turns the first-act dance number “Kansas City” into a thrilling acrobatic showpiece…
TO READ THE FULL REVIEW, CLICK HERE:
Visit http://www.arenastage.org for more information.