Oklahoma! A-OK at the Marriott Theatre

Oklahoma! A-OK at the Marriott Theatre
Michelle Lauto and Aaron Umsted unite in an Oklahoma hello. Photo: Liz Lauren

Marriott sticks to what they do best putting on a Broadway-esque musical on a relatively small stage resulting in a high-energy production

Sometimes it's OK to log off Facebook, turn down the disturbing news of the day, quit worrying about whether Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are going to blow up the world and a take a step back to a simpler time.

Oklahoma!, the age old story of the  handsome cowboy and the beautiful farm girl as they struggle to start a brand new life in a brand new state has captured the hearts of America since it was introduced to audiences in 1943.

Cast of Oklahoma.

Cast of Oklahoma.

Now you can relive those times with the Marriott Theater's adaptation of Oklahoma!

Step out of a cold snowy Chicago spring night into the sun baked Oklahoma Territory of the early 20th century where you'll hear music from the legendary duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and see some of the best dance, acting and orchestration around.

Classics including All Er Nuthin', I Cain't Say No, Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'Kansas City and of course, Oklahoma take you back to the time when the biggest concerns were if the Farmer and the Cowman could be friends.

The musical based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs, plays out beautifully on Marriott’s theater-in-the- round stage, thanks to the choreography by Alex Sanchez, with the huge cast never missing a beat.

With all the banter about #MeToo people are looking at theater with a new lens. Director Aaron Thielen handles this beautifully by making Laurey a strong, confident woman who knows that they'll be Many a New Day where she can "start all over again." In addition, Thielen was able to make other contemporary modifications to the show going about as fer as he could go without changing the original story.

The talented cast includes Jennie Sophia as the spunky “Laurey” (Goodman Theatre: Brigadoon; Drury Lane Theatre: Les Misérables,  Oliver), Brandon Springman as “Curly” (Marriott Theatre: The Bridges of Madison County, She Loves Me, Singin’ in the Rain), Susan Moniz as the loveable “Aunt Eller” (Marriott Theatre: October Sky, La Cage aux Folles, Mary Poppins; Broadway/National Tours: Fun Home, Grease) with Shea Coffman (Marriott Theatre: Ragtime, Newsies, The Bridges of Madison County), doing a wonderful job of portraying the evil farmhand  “Jud Fry,” Michelle Lauto owns the role of  “Ado Annie Carnes” (Marriott Theatre: Ragtime; Royal George Theatre: Spamilton), with longtime Chicago favorite Terry Hamilton spot-on, as always, in the role of her dad. 

Others in the large cast include: Aaron Umsted as “Will Parker” (National Tours: Anything Goes, Mary Poppins, A Chorus Line), Ninos Baba as “Ali Hakim” (About Face Theatre: Significant Other and I Am My Own Wife), Evan Tyrone Martin as “Ike Skidmore,” Elizabeth Telford as “Gertie Cummings”, Benita Bünger as “Dream Laurey,” Lucas Segovia as “Dream Curly,” with Brandon Block, Miranda Borkan, DeShawn Bowens, Nick Cosgrove, Maxwell J DeTogne, Alejandro Fonseca, Noah Gouldsmith, Autumn Hlava, Maya Lou Hlava, Johanna McKenzie Miller, Madison Piner, Zachary Porter, Ken Singleton, Kyra Sorce, Adrienne Storrs, Steven Strafford and Jessica Wolfrum.

The cast of Oklahoma!

The cast of Oklahoma!

The production features set design by Kevin Depinet, projection design by Anthony Churchill, costume design by Brian Hemesath, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin, properties design by Sally Weiss, and musical supervision and orchestra conducted by Patti Garwood.

About Oklahoma!

Breaking all Broadway box office records when it opened in 1943, Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein - the team who went on to create Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music.

What: Oklahoma! 

Rating: Highly recommended.

When: Oklahoma! will continue thru June 10th with performances on: Wednesdays  1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.;Thursdays  7:30 p.m.; Fridays 8 p.m.; Saturdays 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Where: 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

Tickets: $50- $60 can be purchased at the box office, by phone 847-634-0100 or online.

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