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East Midlands
posted/updated: 31 Oct 2013 -
Music by Richard Rodgers Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
society/company: Northampton Musical Theatre Company (directory)
performance date: 29 Oct 2013
venue: Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton School for Boys, Billing Road Northampton NN1 5RT
reviewer/s: Alex Wood (Sardines review)

Because of its status as a classic musical it is easy for a society to present Oklahoma! in a lazy, lacklustre way in the expectation that it will always sell. And, candidly, my experience of amateur productions of shows like this has been disappointing.That's a shame as Oklahoma! is still a very fine show with a good story, excellent songs, and themes that are still relevant to an audience the vast majority of whom were not born when the show was first produced.

But I am very pleased to say that NMTC did Oklahoma! proud.This was an excellent show.

There were some fine acting and singing performances from the principals who were well supported by the emsemble. I was impressed by Lisa Simpson as Aunt Eller, Dan Hodson struck just the right note as Will Parker and Matthew Berrill made a fine Curly. Katy Manning played Laurey with the right balance between a girl who is no pushover but who wants a good man in her life - in contrast to Ado Annie, played with wonderful comic skill by Beth Hodgson who was totally convincing as the 'girl who can't say no'. To make the character Jud Fry believable requires real acting skill in order to avoid a wierd characature and Jonathan Reynolds' portrayal was absolutely right.

There was a large chorus, all of whom were kept occupied throughout the show - in character all the time. Singing and dancing were of a very high quality. Choreography is clearly a forte of Martyn Knight, the director, and this showed in what I took to be demanding dance numbers especially as, at times, the whole cast of 40 were on what is really quite a small stage. Accents were consistent and diction was excellent throughout.

A 13-piece orchestra, led by musical director Graham Tear did the score full credit.

The set design was enhanced by the use of slides on a backdrop augmented with items of small, easily moved scenery on stage and this arrangement worked extremely well. The lighting design combined the practical and the creative very well. Costumes were appropriate and of good quality, with no corners cut.

The whole piece clearly bore the hallmark of strong and intelligent directing and Martyn Knight (supported by an excellent team)is to be commended on producing such an entertaining Oklahoma!

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