Arts Centre, Melbourne (venue)
26 May 2018 (released)
06 June 2018
The Production Company are celebrating 20 years and first up for 2018 is Oklahoma. Currently playing at the Arts Centre in Melbourne for a limited season, the musical boosts a number of popular tunes including: “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”, “Kansas City” and “Oklahoma”.
Set in Claremont in 1907, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma have been reprised numerous times and first opened in Australia at Her Majesty’s Theatre back in February 1949. The musical centres on Curly McLain (Simon Gleeson) and his love interest Laurey Williams (Anna O’Byrne). There is a secondary love story that plays out between Ado Annie (Elise McCann) and Will Parker (Bobby Fox). Both love stories have their problems and lurking in the wings for Curly’s girl is Jud Fry (Ben Mingay) and Ali Hakim (Grant Piro) causes trouble for Ado Annie and Will.
Gleeson’s is remarkable as Curly and embodies all the endearing traits of the character. His performance of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” was warm and pitch perfect. The man seated next to me sung along with Gleeson and clearly loved all the tunes as he belted them out along with the performers. The dynamic between Gleeson and O’Byrne was enticing and felt organic. O’Byrne is a stand-out performer and her duet with Gleeson of “People Will Say We’re in Love” was exceptional.
Grant Piro was hilarious as Ali a peddler and almost stole the show with his impeccable comedic timing. Mingay’s performance of “Lonely Room” demonstrated his incredible musical range and ability to play a character so deeply flawed.
My only criticism was the overall pace which I felt lacked momentum. It wasn’t a favourite of mine but the audience loved it and cheered loudly as the performers took their final bow.