Earl and I went to see the national tour of “Oklahoma!” at the local theatre tonight. We had been “Broadway Theatre League” members years ago but after a couple of years we dropped out and hadn’t been to a production in quite a while. I bought these tickets as a Christmas present for Earl, thinking we could make a date night of it, which we did and enjoyed very much.
It’s unfortunate that we didn’t really enjoy the performance.
Both Earl and I are very familiar with the show. My high school performed “Oklahoma!” when I was in 8th grade and though I was just an audience member for that production, I remember the energy radiating from the stage inspired me to become involved in local theatre and the following high school productions. Earl is very familiar with the movie version of “Oklahoma!”. I sang tracks from the score in a dinner theatre/ensemble type setting in college. A number of years ago we attended another high school production of the classic musical.
We both agreed that the high school productions we had seen in the past were better than the national tour version of the show tonight.
Tonight’s production just lacked energy. Period. The set was sparse. A stalk of corn, a windmill, an old woman and a butter churn was all that was on stage when the show opened. The backdrops were wrinkled. The lighting was not good, creating shadows where shadows should not be. The pacing was mind numbingly slow. The majority of the cast seemed like they were simply going through the motions. And the actor playing Curly sang through his nose. The show started at 8:00 p.m. on the dot. Intermission didn’t come along until 9:45 p.m. One and three quarter hours for the first act! There were some bright spots in the production; the actress playing Laurie had a beautiful voice and Gertie Cummings’ obnoxious laugh was played to the hilt. And luckily, there was a very handsome dancer on stage with a nice full beard who was wearing a pair of chaps and a cowboy hat (and some other clothes too). That held my attention during the crowd scenes.
Intermission finally rolled around and Earl and I did something we never had done before. We left before the second act. Sadly, we weren’t alone by a long shot, evidenced by the relatively large number of people that headed to their cars when we did. We went out and got a bite to eat.
We still had a nice time together. We were just disappointed in the show. Perhaps the second act surpassed the first in energy and pacing, but I somehow doubt it. Tonight was the second night of the two day run here; I had heard rumors that the review in the paper this morning was not good. Now I know why.