17-21 March 2015
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
The Lowry in Salford Quays, Manchester is conveniently located just off the M602 motorway, with plenty of parking in the large multi-storey car park next to the theatre.If you eat in one of the restaurants at The Lowry Centre next door you can park for free, otherwise it costs around £5.50. The theatre is lovely and clean and all the staff are very helpful and friendly. Oklahoma! was in the larger Lyric theatre where all the seats have a good view of the stage and there is ample leg room.
Whilst I had heard of Oklahoma! and knew a couple of the songs I didn’t know the plot at all. My husband, not a lover of musicals, wasn’t too keen on seeing it, especially once he found out that it was one of his Mum’s favourite musicals! This musical has remained popular for good reason and he was pleasantly surprised with how good it actually was.
Oklahoma!, written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is set in Oklahoma Territory in 1906 and tells the tale of two young couples falling in love. The main romance is between Laurey Williams and cowboy Curly McLain and the other young couple are cowboy Will Parker and his fiancée Ado Annie, who provide a humorous secondary plot line.
The musical opens with Ashley Day as Curly singing “Oh, what a beautiful morning!” as he walks into the farmyard where Aunt Eller, played by Belinda Lang, is hanging out her washing. Laurey, played by Charlotte Wakefield, is stubborn and refuses Curly’s offer to take her to the dance that night choosing instead to go with moody farmhand Jud.
The theatre’s large stage is filled with an impressive set, I have to say that it is one of the best that I have seen. The realistic farmyard and barn cleverly incorporating Jud’s smokehouse home also transforms into the schoolhouse for the dance.
For a musical to be successful it needs both great tunes and good performers. Rodgers and Hammerstein have provided a memorable score, performed brilliantly by the orchestra which was expertly directed by Stephen Ridley. The whole cast demonstrated a wealth of talent, especially with the clarity of the singing and quality of the dance. From the opening number, sung by Ashley and then on through the whole show, the calibre of the actors and strength of direction shone through.
My favourite scenes were the dream sequence at the end of the first act and the dance with hay bales that the cowboys performed later in the show. The choreography was absolutely amazing and there was not a foot out of place all night.
All the main characters were well cast and comedy was added by Gary Wilmot as the no-good pedlar Ali Hakim and Lucy May Barker as flirtatious Ado Annie.
With songs like “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”, “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and “Oklahoma!” this is a great feel-good show and a brilliant night out, it is showing at The Lowry until March 21st.
Tickets cost from £18 to £39 (includes £2 booking fee).
Oklahoma! is at the The Lowry in Manchester until 21 March 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000