Friday, October 24, 2014 • 06:03
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Review— Oklahoma! much better than just 'OK'


May 01, 2013
Community Players Theater has done it again by brining Broadway magic to a local theater stage.

This production of Rogers and Hammerstein's 1943 classic Oklahoma! was a romp'n, stomp'n, hoot'n, holler'n good time hoe down. Set in the Oklahoma Territory in 1906 around the frontier town of Claremore, Oklahoma! has something for everyone…singing, dancing, laughs, romance, a deadly love triangle, a villain, a hero, and of course, a happy ending.

The story centers on the ultimately tragic love triangle between Curly (Joel Byers/Mathew Curtis) and Laurey (Kristen Byers/Chelsea Nygaard) and Jud Fry (Andrew Holden). Jud, a ranch hand obsessed with Laurey, uses bullying tactics in his attempt to win her love from Curly, a local cowboy. Unsuccessful at every turn, in drunken desperation Jud starts a fight at the wedding of Laurey and Curly, which leads to his demise. Holden does such a good job at being evil that by mid-production he elicited hisses and boos from the very engaged audience.

On the lighter side of love, we had the back and forth romance between Ado Annie Carnes (Maggie Ryan/Julie Burlington) Will (Steven Wade) and Ali Hakim (Daniel Robinson), with Ado Annie proclaiming "it depends on who I am with," when asked who she loves best. In her rendition of the well-known tune I Cain't Say No Julie Burlington, a Valley Center product, lights up the stage with the polished delivery, presence, comedic timing gained by her extensive performance background. Ado Annie's back and forth love between Ali Hakim, a traveling Persian peddler, and the well-meaning, but somewhat dimwitted Will Parker, provided the most laughs and enthusiastic applause of the night. Steven Wade's rendition of Will delivered crowd pleasers, including his singing of Kansas City and duet with Ado, With Me It's All or Noth'n.

Katie Burlington, also with extensive stage credits, delighted as the sassy and flirtatious Gertie Cummings who challenged Laurey for Curly's affection, but wound up marrying Ali Hakim. Other performances of note were Linnea Robinson and Sabine Spencer as Aunt Eller, Katie Burlington as Gertie Cummings, and Chris Ryan as Ike Skidmore.

This review would not be complete without a mention of the choreography, ensemble numbers, and costuming. The choreography (Chelsea Nygaard) was very well done, especially the opening ensemble number with lots of romp'n, stomp'n and even rope tricks as well as the Dream Dance where Laurey plays out her love conflict between Curly and Jud. The chorus ensembles were harmonic, strong and moving, the best being the show signature number, Oklahoma! Finally the costumes (Alyssa Mages and Katie Burlington) were authentic and well done.

Community Players Theater, located at Community Lutheran Church, 3575 E. Valley Parkway has produced another winner. This time, however they may have not done themselves a favor, as they radically raised the bar on what they can do and what we might expect out of their next production.

If'n you missed the first weekend, then thar's, I mean, if you missed the first weekend there's good news. Oklahoma! runs again, Friday May 3 and Saturday May 4 both at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be bought at the door ($10 Students/Seniors,$12 General, $15 Reserved), but based on the sold-out crowds the first weekend, it might be better to buy your tickets in advance by ordering on line at clcesc.org - Theater-Tickets, or by calling Gwenn Ryan at 951-461-3291.

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Michael Robledo