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