ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

OKLAHOMA! Directed by Andy Kelly Musical Director: Jeremy Sleith Whitworth A.M.D.S. Oklahoma! is a classical musical set in the mid-west of America in the early 1900s telling the story of rivalries and love triangles, and a rift between the farmers and the cowmen. The songs in the show are some of the best-known numbers in musical history including the number, ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.’ This you know when you are watching this Rodgers and /Hammerstein classic that you will leave humming the soundtrack for a good couple of days. As the newest members to Join the Association family, I was really looking forward to seeing what this group had to offer, and as soon as you walked up to the venue, I knew I was in for a treat. What took me by surprise, was when I walked up to the entrance of the small church hall, I was greeted by hay bales and two beautiful horses. This really got all the audience members in the mood for a good ol’ cowboy hoe down! Andy Kelly, the director of this production, really shook things up when it came to setting this piece. He made the bold move to create his version of Oklahoma! in the round, again immersing the audience into the action. Supporting Andy in the production team, Jeremy Sleith also put his stamp on this classic score. Usually where you find Oklahoma!, you tend to get a 12-piece orchestra (or more) waiting in the pit. Jeremy took everything back to basics and stripped the orchestra to a 5-piece band. Whilst in most numbers this worked really well, in others I felt it missed the gusto required. The one number where I felt this change had the most impact was that of “Lonely Room” sung by the mangey farm hand, Jud Fry. By stripping away the orchestral pieces, you really focused on the performer and the lyrics to what is pivotal moment in the character development of the role. Both Jeremy and Andy worked with the cast to really pull the show back to basics, and it was refreshing to watch this