If you haven't moseyed over to see Oklahoma at the Lyric Opera House, you better hurry. It skedaddles out of sight on May 19.
If you do get tickets, you're in for quite a blockbuster of a show. The enchanting immortal melodies of Richard Rogers and the inventive inspired lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II have seldom been better on display.
Oklahoma was the first Broadway musical which seamlessly integrated its songs into its plot. It opens with the genially playful "O What a Beautiful Morning" , one of the best lead-in numbers of any musical ever staged. John Cudia as Curley richly sings it with just the right whimsical sentiment. Cudia's vocal instrument is a sheer wonder to listen to. Its power and resonance is unbelievable.
We, my wife and I, were lucky to attend yesterday's matinee. My cousin Glenn and his wife Marti, and his cousin Gary and wife Teri joined us. We knew from what we had read and heard that we were in for an unforgettable theatrical experience. And in every way it was.
From that opening scene it only got better. Paula Scrofano, making her debut at the Lyric Opera, is an Aunt Eller who knows she is the center of gravity around which all the combinations of characters revolve. Ashley Brown's Laurey is vulnerable, arch, ingratiating and so easy to look at. Her voice agile and angelic.
When Curley and Laurey sing the last measures of "People Will Say We're in Love", you're carried away by its sweeping sonority.
There's plenty of comedy to tickle the funnybone. Curtis Holbrook and Tari Kelly delightfully recreate the smitten Will Parker and his wayward girl friend, Ado Annie Usman Ally is hilarious as the Persian peddler Ali Hakim, who suffers from gamophobia, fear of tying the knot.
And what can I say about the phenomenal dancing. Magnifique! The choreography was, I understand, patterned after Agnes De Mille's prototypes in the original 1943 show. The Laurey's dream ballet number is remarkable for its subtlety and nuance.
The villain of the piece, Jud Fry, was played by David Adam Moore, darkly but with enough sadness to elicit sympathy. At least before the intermission. When we got back to our seats, it was announced that Mr. Moore had injured his knee(we all agreed it must have happened in that dream ballet) and was hors de combat. His replacement Paul La Rosa gallantly came on for the fatal fight scene.
The show closes with the rousing thunderous title song "Oklahoma". The driving cadences of it are so compelling you feel like belting it out yourself.
Later, after the show, we adjourned to Rivers Restaurant for a succulent dinner and talked about how wonderful it all was. Cousin Glenn summed it up. "It was exuberant," he exclaimed.
Next year it's The Sound of Music. I wonder who will play Maria.