Saturday, October 1, 2011

OKLAHOMA, (Portland Center Stage) C+/B-

by Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Original Dances by Agens de Mille
Directed by Chris Coleman

Rodney Hicks   ,,,,,   Curly
Joy Lynn Matthews-Jacobs  .....   Aunt Eller
Brianna Horne   .....   Laurey
Troy Valjean Rucker   .....   Ike Skidmore
Don Kenneth Mason   .....   Fred/Dream Curly/Ensemble
Tomothey Ware   .....   Slim/ Ensamble
Jarren Muse   .....   Will Parker
Justin Lee Miller   .....   Jud Fry
Marisha Wallace   .....   Ado ANnie Carnes
Jonathan Raviv   .....   Ali Hakim/Fight Captain
Kelcy Griffin   .....   Gertie Cummings/Ensemble/Dance Captain
Shelia Jones  .....   Ellen/Ensemble
Berwick Haynes   .....   ANdrew Carnes
Tyrone Roberson   Cord Elam/Ensamble
Gregory J Hanks   .....   Mike/Ensemble
Kemba Anika SHannon   .....   Dream Laurey/Ensamble
Sumayya Ali   .....   Virginia / Ensembel
Bianca Burgess   .....   Iilene/Ensemble
Marlene Villafane  .....   Vivian/ Ensemble

plot --we all know this story, it has been in the culture for most all of our lives. Curley loves Laurey, Laurey can't make up her mind about him, Jud is a menacing man who also want's Laurie.  Sub plot Will Parker loves Ado Annie--but Ado is a silly flirt who has her eye on Ali Hakim the Peddler.  Fun and tension--songs and dances--all turns out as it should.

sez says: the best part of this is the all Black cast..thus playing with the iconic idea that only white folks populated the west, worked hard, had community and admirable dreams, etc.  But certainly it is more than just reconfiguring the imagery of The West that is good here--there is also a band of very talented entertainers on stage.   Some more so than others: Marisha Wallace (Ado Annie) and Jarran Muse (Will Parker) were stand-outs--making real characters appear on stage--instead of being just singers/singing well. And in parts the dancing was worth the price of admission..(but not all of it)  Disappointing was the Dream Laurey dancer; and Curly, while he certainly has a great voice, seemed a little uninvolved in his part.  To be fair I am not sure you can expect much from any dancer on the Stage at PCS--it is too small to allow ensemble dancing to be powerfully engaged, as each dancer has to work in a relatively small space. So the fact that some of the dances came out so very well is testimony to the talent of the dancers in this production.  Finally, and this is just a personal preference, I am no fan of light opera. I like my American Musicals to be 'popular music'.  and this production repeatedly pushed the music toward light opera--and that spoiled some of the numbers for me...but no doubt delighted those who are light opera fans.  Overall it is a nice production, worth seeing, but it is not astoundingly fabulous.
mjc says:  I am not normally a fan of musicals but this one is iconic, and I generally can indulge in a couple of songs and I love the dancing.  But, I must admit, I am spoiled by seeing the Broadway productions, the exquisite perfection of the cream of the talent pool spoils me for even very good work.  I would love to see this all black production again on a big stage with precision dancing and down home singing.

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