Surprisingly, for all its innovation, Oklahoma! has been largely ignored by local musical theatres and touring productions for quite some time. Perhaps the ubiquitous amateur nature of local performances had tarnished this classic in our minds, turning it into a hokey cliché. However, the current national tour, based on Trevor Nunn's Royal National Theatre production, leaves no doubt that there's plenty of life left in this Rogers and Hammerstein favorite.

Photo of rope handler in Oklahoma! National Tour
Rope handler in
Oklahoma! National Tour
Photo: Joan Marcus
Reconceived with all new choreography by Susan Stroman, including the Agnes de Mille ballet, this production of Oklahoma! reminds us of how much we've been missing. From the opening "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," right along through "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Kansas City," "I Cain't Say No," "People Will Say We're in Love," and "The Farmer and the Cowman," to the familiar, but buoyant, "Oklahoma," the great numbers never stop.

Photo of Brandon Andrus as Curly and Amanda Rose as Laurey
Brandon Andrus as Curly
and Amanda Rose as Laurey
Photo: Joan Marcus
Brandon Andrus' well-rounded tenor and good looks, as Curly, are a perfect compliment to Amanda Rose's lush soprano and refreshing beauty, as Laurey, adding to a detailed physical repartee between the two that produces a pleasing chemistry.

Sarah Shahinian is a firecracker, as the voluptuous redhead, Ado Annie, waffling between Daniel Robinson's solid, straight-up, old-fashioned cowboy, Will Parker, and Colin Trahan's slippery, swift-talkin' Ali Hakim.

Photo of Tom Lucca as Jud
Tom Lucca as Jud
Photo: Joan Marcus
Tom Lucca's Jud Fry is the requisite dark, brooding, simple-minded, strong-willed miscreant, but his opening scene, in which he delivers only one line, verifying to Curly that he's asked Laurey to the picnic, is so undeveloped, that we're left unprepared when Curly appears in his shack and suggests that Jud would be fully appreciated by everyone if he just killed himself.

There are also some instances where the non-union production's budget-saving measures are in evidence, such as when the synthesizer in the orchestra is apparent. But none of these faults detract from the overall punchy delivery of this classic story.

Oklahoma! runs through January 3rd at the Buell Theatre. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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