The Sainsbury Singers presented Oklahoma! on 24-28 May 2011 at The Hexagon Theatre, Reading. It had previously performed this show in 1978, 1989 and 2001.
Oklahoma! was the first musical wriiten by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906 it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtacious fiancée, Ado Annie, a friend of Laurey's.
Principals (in order of appearance)
- Aunt Eller Tricia Goodchild
- Curly Sean Faulkner
- Laurey Emma Reeves
- Ike Skidmore Chris Goodchild
- Slim Rob Latimer
- Will Parker Paul Stoneley
- Fred Brian Bretney
- Jud Fry Stephen Cox
- Ado Annie Carnes Louise Quelch
- Ali Hakim Tom Fitzsimons
- Gertie Cummings Catherine Hannan
- Andrew Carnes Nigel Wilson
- Cord Elam Michael Schult
Sam Blake, Godfrey Chigona, Helen Cleeve, Lorraine Cox, Chris Faulkner, Lucy Hutson, Jenny Jackson, Abi Kirkwood, Hilary Latimer, Beth Newton, Emma Prince, Chris Reeves, Denise Schult, Michael Schult, Michael Stebbings, Chris Thomas, Jessamy Vincent, Lesley Vought, Katie Wise, Hannah Wyard
The Oklahoma! Band
- Conductor / Keyboard 1 Ian Southgate
- Keyboard 2 Jevan Johnson
- Flute David Wirdnam
- Clarinet Jo Paterson-Neild
- Trumpet David Gray
- Trombone Paul Dodge
- Violincello Neil Charlton
- Percussion Mike Creech
Behind The Scenes
- Producer and choreographer Kim Antell
- Musical Director Michael Stebbings and Fiona Wilson
- Orchestra reduction Michael Stebbings
- Assistant Choreographer Denise Schult
- Fight Arranger Jonathon Shelley
- Production Co-ordinator Nick Humby
- Stage Manager John Simmonds
- Deputy Stage Manager Nigel Antell
- Assistant Stage Manager Ian Robertson
- Stage Crew Joe Daniels, Joseph Daniels, James Humby, Nick Humby, John Radley and Keith Webb
- Lighting Designer Kim Hollamby
- Followspot operators Peter Harley and Rebecca Wyard
- Sound Assistant Sally Ollerenshaw
- Prompt Anne Lowder
- Props Kathryn Harris
- Wardrobe Mistresses Amanda Bretney and Valda Hull
- Wardrobe assisted by Tricia Goodchild and Emma Reeves
- Makeup Louise Marshall
- Makeup Assistants Catherine Hannan and Kerry Woodley
- Scenery Scenery and Property Hire
- Sound Equipment Wigwam Acoustics
- Programme Design Jessamy Vincent
- Programme with thanks to Michael Stebbings and the Publicity Team
- Publicity Team Helen Cleeve, Emma Prince, Emma Reeves, Denise Schult and Jessamy Vincent
- Webmasters Nigel Antell and Brian Bretney
- Oklahoma! artwork Nigel Wilson
- Into The Woods artwork Michael Stebbings and Jessamy Vincent
- Printing Print Wise
- Front of House Manager John Jones
Oh what a lovely show
WITH all the cuts being experienced in the arts world one wonders how some theatres and societies survive.
The Sainsbury Singers is now restricted to one performance a year at Reading’s Hexagon. Last week they put on one of the all-time favourites; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, a musical full of lovely tunes which also contains dark themes.
Sainsbury Singers have a new musical directing team (Michael Stebbings and Fiona Wilson), a new producer (Kim Antell) and lots of new blood. It’s also interesting to see how this ‘family’ society has spawned new stars — Stephen Cox (Jud) takes over the part that his dad Peter played last time, and Sean Faulkner (Curly) follows in the traditions of his dad Chris.
I’ve written before about the Hexagon being a difficult venue to play because of the sheer size of the stage and the difficult acoustics. Sadly the gremlins were at work on the first night and we lost some of the principals’ voices for a short period in the second half.
The choreography was a little tame at times, although the fight scenes were well done and realistic. Memorable scenes? The most powerful was that set in the smoke house with Curly and Jud, particularly Jud’s Lonely Room which was sung with great force and passion by Stephen Cox.
Louise Quelch gave a comic interpretation of Ado Annie and Tricia Goodchild made a great Aunt Eller.
There aren’t too many choruses in Oklahoma but Oh What a Beautiful Morning, and Oklahoma are potential show stoppers. The Sainsbury Singers chorus proved that fundamentally they are an excellent singing group.