Free Rain really are gracing the stage of The Q at the moment with their production of Oklahoma! The classic musical has certainly been in good hands under the direction of Anne Somes and musical direction of Leisa Keen, and the energy on opening night was simply infectious.
Despite being a musical, and a light one at that, there is some genuine depth to these characters. Jenna Roberts' portrayal of the heroine is particularly noteworthy, but they all sit in the shadow of Tony Falla, Amy Dunham and Mathew Chardon O'Dea who shine in the love triangle. Despite being given very little to work with by the writers, they have developed an engaging story that really moves along.
I was particularly impressed with the cast's American accents. Perhaps for the first time in Canberra, a local cast has successfully emulated a single American accent, rather than the more common practice of each cast member using an accent from a different part of the United States. It may not have been a perfect Oklahoma accent, but even the cast of the 1955 film didn't manage that!
There is something unfortunate in the fact that, when they wrote Oklahoma, Rodgers and Hammerstein didn't see the value in the pioneering story that underlies the central love story. It leaves the love story a little hollow, and turns references to Oklahoma's journey to statehood into quaint oddities. I think that with more focus on this aspect, the story would resonate much more deeply, and the central love story would be enhanced by a heightened sense of purpose and destiny.
In all, this production of Oklahoma! is certainly one of the better musical productions of recent years.
"It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause."