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Theatre Review: Oklahoma!

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
(Music: Overture) 

Sacramento’s venerable Music Circus has presented this Broadway classic thirteen times over 60 years. Audience member Terry Shaw likes “Oklahoma” so much she’s been coming back for decades.

“I think we’ve seen it since the production in 1968, so if we count up the number they’ve had – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight . . . nine times we’ve seen it.”

Most theater companies these days focus on newer shows, coming off runs in New York or London. But the Music Circus is all about memory and continuity, shared with others while enjoying a new production of a show you fell in love with long ago. It’s like going to Yosemite to see Half Dome. The iconic view changes very little, depending on the weather, but it becomes more meaningful as you return through the years.

The same goes for a musical like “Oklahoma.” The dancing cowboys and farm girls are forever young, and their high leg kids are spectacular. You wince as the giddy young couples let their awkward adolescent affections lead them on, and yet somehow they are charming. And the Rodgers and Hammerstein score, for which this show is famous, is studded with one memorable song after another.

(“Surrey with the Fringe on Top”)

This isn’t to say there weren’t some little snafus – a gremlin briefly got into the sound system Tuesday night, and leading man Jeremiah James sang so gently at some points that the lyrics became a little hard to follow.

But mostly, this production shows that the Music Circus is still doing what they do best – bringing color and energy to the great classics from Broadway’s Golden Age.

(Music out: “Oklahoma”)
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