Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage
Reviewed – 30th August 2018
“A hugely talented cast takes us through a story of ‘love conquers all’ covering some stunning musical numbers and delightful dance routines”
It is hard to imagine that a musical set in 1906 and as far removed from 21st century living as you could imagine would still draw an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Initially brought to the stage seventy five years ago, Oklahoma!, the first musical written by the famed team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is currently being performed at Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre. Set in an American Western/Indian territory and before the formation of the new state of Oklahoma in 1917, it tells the story of farm girl Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly and the slightly sinister farmhand Jud.
Upon entering the theatre the audience is greeted with an impressive full stage farmyard set and whilst slammed doors sometimes wobbled the structure, it never detracted from the overall enjoyment of this well known musical. I was particularly impressed with the inclusion of a ‘surrey with a fringe on top’.
A hugely talented cast of twenty two takes us through a story of ‘love conquers all’ covering some stunning musical numbers and delightful dance routines. Fans of musical theatre will be acutely aware of the standout songs from this show. From Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, People Will Say We’re in Love, The Farmer and the Cowman to the rousing finale Oklahoma, each are performed perfectly with meticulous professionalism.
Carrie Sutton (Laurey) has a wonderful singing voice and gave a faultless starring performance. Joshua Gannon (Curly) has a fine range holding his own solos well and together they wonderfully complimented each other. Alice Redmond (Aunt Eller), Connor Ewing (Jud), Lisa Bridge (Ado Annie Carnes), Jeremy Batt (Will Parker) and Joe Leather (Ali Hakim) competently take on the main supporting roles.
Director Catherine Lomax drives the production along well and the evening never misses a beat. The choreography from Khiley Williams is a joy to watch. Special mention must go to Musical Director Rob Scott and the sixteen strong orchestra for performing the music from composer Richard Rodgers with absolute perfection.
Individually and collectively this talented group of performers certainly brings a West End feel to a provincial theatre. It should be noted that the venue is only a twenty minute train journey out of Kings Cross / St Pancras. It certainly is worth visiting!
Reviewed by Steve Sparrow
Photography by Martin Smith
Gordon Craig Theatre until 8th September
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S
NICHOLAS LYNDHURST TO
JOIN KATHERINE JENKINS & ALFIE BOE
Nicholas Lyndhurst (Star Keeper) joins the previously announced Alfie Boe (Billy Bigelow) and Katherine Jenkins (Julie Jordan) in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, the third production in the partnership between The GradeLinnit Company and English National Opera (ENO).
This semi-staged production of Carousel marks BAFTA Award Winning Actor Nicholas Lyndhurst’s return to the West End stage, where he was last seen in Trevor Nunn’s 2011 production of The Tempest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. His other West End credits include Allan Davis’ The Straight and Narrow at the Wyndham’s Theatre, Peter Hall’s production of The Dresser at the Duke of York’s Theatre and The Foreigner, by Larry Shue at the Albany Theatre. Lyndhurst is best known for his classic television series; Only Fools and Horses, Goodnight Sweetheart, After You’ve Gone, Rock & Chips, Butterflies and The Piglet Files. Lyndhurst can also be seen in the 2016 film, A United Kingdom.
Lonny Price will direct the season of 41 performances at ENO’s London Coliseum. Beginning on 7 April 2017, with press night on 11 April 2017 at 7pm, the final performance in this strictly limited five week run takes place on 13 May 2017. ENO award winning 40 piece orchestra and chorus, conducted by David Charles Abell, will accompany the cast in this semi-staged production. Tickets for Carousel are £12 – £110, with over 100 available at £12 for every performance.
Further casting includes Brenda Edwards (Nettie Fowler), Derek Hagen (Jigger Craigin), Alex Young (Carrie Pipperidge), Gavin Spokes (Enoch Snow), Susan Kyd (Mrs Mullin), Martyn Ellis (Mr Bascombe) and Davide Fienauri (Carnival Boy). Final casting will be announced shortly.
Other parts will be played by Bruce Aguilar Rohan, Thomas Audibert, Will Barratt, Jay Bryce, Danielle Cato, Jacob Chapman, Nolan Edwards, Alexander Evans, Lizzi Franklin, Alice Jane, Tessa Kadler, Hannah Kenna Thomas, Jasmine Leung, Leisha Mollyneaux, Rachel Muldoon, Saori Oda, Kane Oliver Parry, Daniel Perry, Alastair Postlethwaite, Joseph Poulton, Verity Quade, Genevieve Taylor, James Titchener, Adam Vaughan, Matthew Whennell-Clark and Anna Woodside.
When the charming Carousel Barker, Billy Bigelow falls in love with Julie Jordan, little do they realise that their relationship will end in tragedy. Fifteen years after getting caught up in an armed robbery, Billy gets the chance to redeem his past and restore pride to his family.
Carousel is presented by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade with English National Opera who have previously produced together the critically acclaimed seasons of Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel and Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close. The GradeLinnit Company are currently producing 42nd Street, to open March 2017 at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S
7 April – 13 May 2017
English National Opera, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Tickets £12 – £110.00 plus booking fee
(no booking fee in person at Box Office)
020 7845 9300
NB – Katherine Jenkins will not be performing on Tuesday 18 April 2017 – the role of Julie Jordan will be played by Molly Lynch
Share this article on social media