RICHARD PARR Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society at Fakenham Community Centre


“The corn is as high as an elephant's eye” and “there's a bright golden haze on the meadow” were some of the lyrics from this wonderful show that provided in-car entertainment on our way home after watching the first night performance of this first-class production.

It's always a good sign when you sing the songs on your way home – a strong indication of how much you have enjoyed the performance.

And enjoyment there was to be had a-plenty in this invigorating interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's ranchy and raunchy musical comedy.

This was a rootin' tootin' evening of entertainment, one rousing foot-tapping song following another, as the enthusiastic cast sang their hearts out, the bitter-sweet romantic tale moving at a rip roaring pace.

Taking centre stage from the opening bars of Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' is Chris Dilley in the role of cowman Curly. Mr Dilley, reprising a role he played with the Swaffham Players production in 2000, not only looked the part (dazzling white teeth and curly hair) but also sang robustly throughout.

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Playing the female lead was Lorraine George as Laurey, and her duet with Mr Dilley in People Will Say We're in Love was particularly effective.

Providing comic relief is Paula Tuck as Ado Annie, who finds herself torn between Will Parker, played by Ben Francis, and Tony George's peddler, Ali Hakim. Don't miss Ben and Paula's Oklahoma “hello”.

Adding an atmosphere of menace and violence was the character of obsessive and tortured Judd Fry. This was a gripping performance from Russell Beveridge, contrasting strongly with the flirty frivolity that dominates the show.

Chrissie Robertson's Aunt Eller, who can hold her own with the toughest of them on the ranch, was another heart-warming performance. Director Jackie Overton and musical director Roger Daniel can be congratulated on a show that sparkles from beginning to end.