Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Centennial Hit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Centennial Hit

Article excerpt

Oklahoma! opened the Lyric Theatre's summer season at Civic Center Music Hall, which was packed with young and old, all of whom knew this production would be really special.

Not only was it an official Oklahoma Centennial production, but it also starred Oklahoma's own Kelli O'Hara.

Her performance was grand, glorious, spectacular, thrilling. Well, I'm out of descriptive words. Let's just say she was perfect in the role.

Directed by Nick Demos, Lyric's artistic director, this musical took the talents of four choreographers - well, make that five, since Nick also did some of the choreography. They are Lyn Cramer, CeCe Farha, Amy Reynolds-Reed and Ashley Wells and they all followed the lead of Agnes DeMille, who did the original choreography for the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.

Shirley Jones may have captured stardom as Laurey in the film of Oklahoma! but from now on, the theatrical star will always be Kelli O'Hara. Her voice, her demeanor, her beauty - all her talents - captivated the audience, which was more than generous in applauding her.

Her co-star Will Chase, as Curly, is perfect foil for her as her hopeful - and successful - lover. He is charming as well as talented as he goes from frustrated beau to fighter to husband. His Broadway credits are numerous, as are those of Robert Hunt, in the role of Jud, who vies for Laurey's hand. The scenes with the two men are tense and exciting and their songs are well-done. We understand he is leaving immediately after the final performance on Sunday to take the lead role in Les Miserables on Broadway.

Addie Tomlinson and John Selya, who take the parts of Laurey and Curly in the "dream" ballet, were breathtaking. The choreography, complete with "saloon" chorus girls and villainous cowhands, is thrilling.

We love Melinda Tanner in her role as Aunt Eller, a focal role in this historic musical. Nathanial Brown is precious as Will Parker, in love with Ado Annie, played by Courtney Balan (clever but a bit shrill).

The duo, well make that trio, when you throw in the hysterical performance of Amir Arison as the peddler Ali Hakim, provide much laughter for the audience. …

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