All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
It’s a beautiful mornin’ as the sun rises, strings on a violin ring out in the distance, and a cowboy casually saunters up to a farmhouse to woo his sweetheart. Little do we know that this peaceful atmosphere will soon be transformed into a romp-stompin’, brawl brewin’ night of love battles, deceptive peddlers, and jealous rage, depicted in St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s rousing production of Oklahoma!
Considered a turning point in musical theatre history, Oklahoma! opened in 1943, ushering in the “golden age” of Broadway. Based on Lynn Riggs’ play, Green Grow the Lilacs, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical catapulted the songwriting duo to success, running for 2,212 performances and garnering a special 1944 Pulitzer Prize. The iconic musical centers on cowboy Curly McLain and his budding romance with town beauty, Laurey Williams, in the 1906 Oklahoma territory. However, trouble brews when preparations for the night’s box social dance spark jealousy and confusion among the townsfolk.
Portraying the main pair of young lovers, Billy Weber as Curly and Amelia Heesen as Laurey connected believably together with many endearing moments of flirtation. Weber’s luminous, rich voice echoed with the charm of western twang, his demeanor quite relaxed as he seemed comfortable in his own performance element. From belting an iconic tune such as “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” to commanding the strings of a violin, Weber showed great versatility. Heesen brought a unique tomboyish flavor to the leading lady role and effectively displayed the change in her character’s evolving feelings towards Curly. Her pleasant soprano voice was especially enjoyable in the couple’s duet, “People Will Say We’re in Love.”
Romance abounded elsewhere as the ditzy Ado Annie (Tiffanie Snyder) struggled to choose between two potential lovers, the sweet-faced Will Parker (Cameron Mitchell) and the exotically crafty Ali Hakim (Michael McMillen). Snyder’s child-like peppiness matched Mitchell’s enthusiastic pursuit of her affection. Displaying rhythmic dancing ability and fine vocal work, Mitchell captured the thoughtful young man with ease. Likewise, McMillen played the bumbling Persian peddler with an appropriate sense of comedic timing and outlandish accent, his many one-liners drawing uproarious laughter. Equally as entertaining was Jordan Reilly as the eccentric, but matronly Aunt Eller. Reilly’s sarcastic sass and booming voice highlighted her resourceful use of the western language and dialect.
In terms of the technical elements, the stage crew, though a bit lagging at times, successfully switched between three main settings, assuring that platforms were safely and securely clamped down. Student publicity efforts included a short, but enticing trailer highlighting video footage from the show’s musical numbers, as well as a unique poster design graphic featuring a silhouetted version of a cowboy and cowgirl, their lassos looping to form the “O” of the Oklahoma title.
Despite occasional awkward physicality and missed pitches, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School's production of Oklahoma! sparkled with unwavering energy, transporting the audience to the simple days of a sprawling, vibrant western landscape. Tackling this iconic musical theatre standard which illustrates the triumph of true love, the cast and crew certainly deserved a hearty and resounding Oklahoma “Yeow!”