REVIEW: Oklahoma! Dereham Theatre Company
A few months after Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first musical Oklahoma! arrived in the West End in 1947, a new operatic society was launched in Dereham.
Six and a half decades on, the popularity of the classic production which helped launched the golden era of Broadway musicals shows no signs of ending.
On the evidence of an outstanding opening night on Saturday, the newly-named Dereham Theatre Company can look forward to the future with great optimism.
Every element of the powerful production was impressive and the energetic and talented cast had clearly been inspired by director Anna Lawrence,
Oklahoma! has a mix of humour, darkness, conflict and romance.
Each aspect was brought out brilliantly and the dream scene at the end of the first act - which included every actor and actress - was captivating.
The casting was spot on.
Brodie Elgood (Laurey) and Sam Greig (Curley) have moved up from the youth section and the quality of their all round performances was superb.
Laura Pirret, playing her first principal role for the adult company, was a perfect Ado Annie and the talent of all the younger members of the cast was perfectly complemented by the vastly experienced performers such as Pat Tabor (Aunt Eller), Nick Bird (Ali Hakim) and Colin Harris (Andrew Carnes) who are still flourishing after decades on the stage.
Jon Bennett (Jud Fry) has as strong a male voice as I have heard in Dereham for a long time and is a great addition to the company.
Malcolm Crane’s musical direction - combined with the greatly improved sound system at the Memorial Hall - and Jodie Quirke’s choreographic input, ensured the complete production package.
The feeling around the hall at the end was that the show would not have looked out of place on a large city stage.
I’ve got a wonderful feeling everything’s going their way......
*Oklahoma! is on nightly from Monday until Saturday, 7.30pm, plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets £12 (£11 concessions). Box office 01362 691569. Online bookings: www.dosoc.co.uk