Saturday, September 15, 2007


I checked out a very fun movie from our library and wanted to share: The Royal National Theatre’s Production of Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman as Curly, Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, Shuler Hensley as Jud, and Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller. Loved it. Absolutely loved it.

First, let me say that Oklahoma! owns a very special place in my heart. This is the first honest-to-goodness play I ever saw. I’d seen ballets in 2nd & 3rd grade and LOVED them. (Beth & I acted them out over and over and over and made my parents watch us over and over and over.) I’d always loved singing and sang in my church and school choir. In fact, we belonged to a large church in California (a children’s choir of 40-50 kids) and I’d had the main part in one of our musicals and a solo in another one. I loved doing that- but it had not affected me as strongly as seeing Oklahoma!. I got to see a middle school production of it when I was in 5th grade and it literally changed my life. When I look back at the production I’m quite sure that it was pretty lousy, but as a 10 year old I was blown away. It was wonderful- singing, story, dancing- all put together in one beautiful package. I knew that I wanted to be on that stage. Profoundly, I knew it. I had never felt that strongly about anything I wanted to do before. I’ve seen the old version of it since then (I love musicals and was raised in a family that saw & loved musicals- ‘Singin’ in the Rain, Sound of Music, White Christmas, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Anything Goes…). But it was not the same as the first time I saw a live musical… So, Oklahoma! is special to me.

I thought RNT’s production was excellent. The cast was fantastic. I certainly believed Jackman and Gabrielle were in love, but that they didn’t know how to deal with it or express it. I had no idea Jackman had such a great voice and from the very first 'Oh, what a beautiful morning' he held the audience captive. I admit Gabrielle didn't have the most incredible voice; however, the dancing was lovely- the major pitfall in this play is Laurey's balletic dream and they soared through this. Jackman & Gabrielle actually danced this themselves, which made it part of the play in a way I'd never seen it before... I fell in love again with Ado Annie and the silliness between her and Will Parker, although I admit this is not the best portrayal of these characters I've ever seen. Hensley was terrifying, yet still a pathetic figure as Jud (he won a Tony for this role). He made this character believably vulnerable. The choreography was a lovely nod to Agnes De Mille yet integrated a freshness that I enjoyed. I can’t say much else about the production- costumes fun, lighting pinpointed time & place well… Some of the English audience shots kind of bothered me, but it ran smoothly...
'Lovely, lovely- wish you were here...'

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