Reevu: Oklahoma! brings a bright shine to beeluved Prairie fairy tale

Will (Josiah George, centre)leads a chorus of madcap cowpokes, under the watchful eye of Aunt Eller (Laura Cardiver, second left, back) in SIMS
Will (Josiah George, centre)leads a chorus of madcap cowpokes, under the watchful eye of Aunt Eller (Laura Cardiver, second left, back) in SIMS' rousing musical Oklahoma!
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Oklahoma! lassoed all that exooberant singin', great dancin', and prairie-dog laughin' all wrote up in Rodgers & Hammerstein's big Broadway moosical which opened Friday down in the Cowichan Theatre.

South Island Musical Society's spunky cast, led by Lesley Croghan and choreeographer Cathy Schmidt, waltzed real good with Hilary Coupland's pit orchestry.

But as good as Oklahoma! was, this trusty stage saddle needed a dab o' creative oil on its editin' shears to  shine it up even more.

But there ain't no mistake. The venerable valley troop  is growed-up right,  usin' trained talent, and minin' actin' potential, as seen in Oklahoma! and it's reecent produktions.

Them smarts, all that great orchestra picking and tooting, and them clever sets, almost guarantee sumthin' your family's gonna remember.

Friday's full house loved SIMS' version of this rollickin' love stury.

The cabin, windmill, and smokehouse, by set designer Geoffery Cram glowed all shiney-like under that glowin' lightin'.

Doc Graham Brockley's aw-shucks cowpoke, Curley, was purfecly paired by purdy Sarah Lane's virtuous, barley-been-kissed Laurey.

Their swap from words of little schoolin' to colossal croonin' was real remarkible.

Laura Cardriver steered her way well as crusty Aunt Eller, referee to hi-jinx aplenty as bumpkin chaps from the bunk house chased a flirtin' chorus of skirts.

Comic relief was nailed by set-builder Cliff Braaten's pole-cat peddler, Ali Hakim.

Toss in Emily Brockhurst's annoyin' cackle as Gertie, Jim Armstrong's shot-gun packin' Old Man Carnes — plus teasin' Ado Annie (songbird Georgia Bennett) chased by lovestruck Will (shiny theatrics by Josiah George).

A don't fergit stage greenhorn Dave Ehle's dramatic work as doomed dud, Judd, was nothin' short o' stellar.

The Poor Judd Is Daid scene, where kindly Curley tries coaxin' seedy Judd out of his sulkin', was real magic-like.

So was Laurey's dream about Curley been daid after been choked by Judd.

Yes, fans got the heapin' helpin' of live theatrics they come for.

Still, their Oklahoma! mighta been more.

Just shy o' three hours, includin' a 20-minute intermission, 20-scene Oklahoma! hit some slow clip-clops.

Gun play by Curley and Judd, plus Aunt Eller's attenshun-gittin' pistol shot, needed realistic shootin' irons packin' blanks, not an offstage 'pop'.

The final fight betwixt Curley and Judd also needed a real dust-up.

Costumes by Georgie Weeks Heyd was sensational, but mighta been better by a homemade-look of flour-bag dresses, baggy pants, and a grab-bag of bowlers, top hats and skimmers — insteada just cowboy hats.

However, Oklahoma! was a charmin' night to remember. It's must viewin' for local Broadway buffs.

Oklahoma! rides agin Feb. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.

Romance-musical ratin': 9 spurs out of 10.


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