Trinity’s Oklahoma One of the Year’s Best

OklahomaTrinity Repertory Company could not have produced a more spectacular show to close out its 2015-2016 season than Oklahoma!.

A first-rate group of performers, under the expert guidance of directors Richard Jenkins and Sharon Jenkins (also serving as choreographer), have breathed new life into the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Eugene Lee’s set resembles a construction site, although the story takes place in the early 1900s. The Jenkins have arranged the Chace Theater so the actors end up sitting among the audience at various points in the show. The effect draws us into this dusty western world.

Oklahoma2Oklahoma features two love stories: one finds cowboy Curly (Charlie Thurston) pining for a sassy farm girl named Laurey (Rachael Warren), while the other is between cowboy Will Parker (Jude Sandy) and Ado Annie Carnes. Thurston and Warren are terrific singers and radiate a lot of passion. They are given able support by Rebecca Gibel as Ado Annie, who is a bit of a nymphomaniac (“I Cain’t Say No”). Stephen Thorne, who brilliantly played Atticus Finch in Trinity’s To Kill a Mockingbird, generates a lot of laughs as eccentric peddler Ali Hakim, who makes a play for Ado Annie. Thorne has a lot of fun with Hakim, who sings “It’s a Scandal! It’s an Outrage” after Ado’s father (Tom Gleadow) points a gun at him. Joe Wilson, Jr. is a strong presence as Jud, a hired hand on the ranch owned by Laurey’s Aunt Eller (Janice Duclos). Jud is smitten with Laurey and resorts to desperate measures to win her love. Wilson beautifully sings the ballad “Lonely Room,” which reflects Jud’s self-doubt and inner turmoil.

In addition to the fantastic comedy and drama, there are rousing dance numbers, especially “Kansas City” and “Oklahoma.” The energy and sense of fun from the performers is infectious.

There’s a lovely moment when Aunt Eller tells Laurey that in order to get through life’s more difficult moments, you need to be resilient. It’s that little touch of humanity that lingers in the mind far longer than a ballad or a square dance.

Simply put, Oklahoma! is one of the year’s best musicals. Don’t miss it.

Oklahoma! runs through June 5. For tickets, call 401-351-4242; 201 Washington Street, Providence. trinityrep.com.

 

 

 

 

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