July 31, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Oklahoma! was the first musical written by the famous Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein team. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1943 during a time when American was ravaged by war. Oklahoma! brought hope back to many Americans during World War II by recounting the story of young lovers on the western prairie who capture all the optimism of a quaint yet spirited town.
The energy and moxie of the Musical Masquers cast brought the audience back to a time of manifest destiny and unbridled hope. Immersed in the production, the whole cast shined bright excelling with the triple threats of singing, dancing, and acting.
Curly (Steven Sizer Jr.) a brassy and bold cattle rancher with eyes for the ladies has his sights set on one particular farm girl. Sizer Jr. tackled this iconic character with seasoned professionalism. His voice rang like a bell from the very first note of, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” to the last note of the finale. Also impressive was Sizer Jr.’s connection with Laurey (Maddy Leckwee.) The couple’s playful banter soon transformed into true confessions of love. Leckwee played her part with tenacity that highlighted the complexity of her character. Her soft and tender heart was equally matched by her sharp wits and spunk.
Close friends to Laurey and Curly was Will Parker (Simon McGhee), a feisty and freewheeling cattle ranger. McGhee was a charming and fresh-faced actor who enamored the audience every time he came on stage. Likewise was Ado Annie (Julia Kreitzer) who left us knowing what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Adding a layer of depth and danger to the plot was none other than ol’ Jud Fry (Austin Koehler), the town’s creep and hermit. Koehler brought the forceful and brute presence needed for the role. Overall, his commitment to character kept the audience on the edge of its seat.
I would be remiss not to mention Aunt Eller (Susan Martin), who acted as the moral and emotional guide for not only her niece Laurey, but the whole town. Martin was honest, clear and, commanding throughout the production. She was an anchor for the cast and production as a whole.
Truly one of the best performance goes to Ali Hakim (Jake Cox), his portrayal of the foreign peddler was spectacular!
Supporting the story was a vivacious, energetic, and talented group of town folk. The ensemble filled the auditorium with beautiful song, enchanting dances and a terrific fight scene. This old territory town might be sleepy but their residents certainly are not.
For technical aspects of the production the set, designed by Amy McCall, was minimalistic, yet effective. Picture a quaint farm house overlooking nothing but a windmill and miles and miles of prairie land and you have the set of Oklahoma! – Charming, sweet, and rural. Lighting set the tone and temperature for the production and utilized the bright set. Also brilliantly executed were costumes designed by Chris Dwyer; the pieces were period appropriate and properly sized for the cast. Overall the production elements of Oklahoma gave the town extra character and life.
This talented cast and crew took on a Broadway classic with class and charm. Musical Masquers production of Oklahoma! was as enchanting as an evening in a surrey with fringe on top!
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, including one 10-minute intermission.
Oklahoma! showing through August 6, 2017 at West Bend High School The Silver Lining Theatre.
For tickets, www.musicalmasquers.org
Photos courtesy Amanda Voelzke