Director – Laura Jordan Reed
Musical director – Peter Robinson
Choreography – Janice Bruce
Reviewer: Francesca Parker
Edinburgh’s oldest amateur operatic society, Southern Light Opera return once again to the King’s Theatre. With a repertoire of successful performances that have included Fiddler on the Roof and Beauty and the Beast, Roger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! isas equally as entertaining.
It’s 1906 in the United States of America; on a ‘Beautiful Mornin’ in Oklahoma. a rather vivacious rivalry between the state’s farmers and the cowboys continues. In a typically complicated fashion, two supposed rivals; Curly (Eddie McDowell) and Laurey (Anna Chidgey) play out their love story before the backdrop of such complications. Will the star-crossed lovers find their happiness together amid the turmoil, or will it all end in tears?A fun, fast and fantastic musical ensues with famous songs such as, ‘I can’t say no’, ‘The Farmer and the Cowman’ and of course ‘Oklahoma’ to keep the audience engaged.
McDowell and Chidgey’s performance provide the audience with a pair of lovers whose relationship is believable and their chemistry works perfectly on stage, and certainly keeps the audience rooting for them as their story unravels. The vocal performances are on the whole very pleasing, especially Chidgey’s, whose range is unrivalled by any other member of the cast. The performance itself is of high standard for an amateur production; however there are a few instances where the singing fell slightly flat which is disappointing. Special mention must go to to Kevin Reed in the rôle of Ali Hakim for his convincing and comic portrayal of the charming and fickle peddler. Real testament must be paid to Reed as he was cast in this rôle only two weeks ago due to the original actor falling ill. Elaine Graham as Ado Annie is also very impressive; her performance is conducted with a great accent and realvigour.
The chorus supports the leads exceptionally well; there is certainly a lot of enthusiasm, and the cast sound tremendous when performing altogether. Southern Light Opera’s dance routines are well choreographed by Janice Bruce who has made good use of the lively, spirited and energetic dance style, which, while slightly clumsy in places is fun and generally well-timed. The set design is what can be expected of an amateur performance, there were painted backdrops, trees on strings and sparsely placed props. This does not detract from the performance, however, but perhaps adds to its ‘makeshift’ charm. The smoke machine used to indicate the beginning of a dream sequence where Laurey dreams of her wedding to Curly is particularly effective. The costumes are very authentic and colourful; there are lots of checked shirts and swishing dresses.
Overall this performance is an impressive display of amateur dramatic talent, the cast received a very enthusiastic round of applause from the audience at the curtain call. Although Oklahoma!is an enjoyable production that will appeal to those who’re looking for an evening of light entertainment. Charmingly, the cast is an ensemble of different ages, shapes and sizes which widened the appeal of the show, but most significantly the Southern Light Opera donates at least 50% of its profits to a local charity and this year the company is supporting ‘Cash for kids’- an Edinburgh charity that supports local children.So if there was ever a great cause to go to the theatre, then this is it.
Runs until Sat 16 Mar