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Thomas Jefferson High School Oklahoma!

By • Dec 14th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

In Oklahoma! the unbroken country is home to the universal power struggles between good and evil, man and wild, and of course the farmer and the cowboy. In this classic midwestern show performed by Thomas Jefferson High School, Oklahoma ranchers and the bowlegged cowmen join together and express their adoration for the newly acquired western frontier, through song.

Oklahoma! debuted on Broadway in 1943, redefining the modern musical with innovative musical numbers written by Rodgers and Hammerstein that assisted in progressing the action of the play, a concept now implemented as a standard component in all musical productions. In the play, Curly (William McGarey) the charismatic cowboy courts Laury (Nicole Boyd), the agrarian anomaly, but the hired farm hand, Joad Fry (Kevin Place) seeks to nip the romance right in the bud, plotting a murderous scheme in his lonely barn lodgings.

Humorous musical performances and lively ensemble dance sequences excite and engage as this heartwarming production lives up to the exclamation point in Oklahoma! Accompanied by the sensational Thomas Jefferson Orchestra, the catchy songs were performed brilliantly when the sound system was utilized, while the ensemble added life and atmosphere to the show in the uplifting group numbers.

The romantic duo Curly and Laury played delectably by William McGarey and Nicole Boyd displayed great commitment and their teasing relationship was established with ease. McGarey, in particular, was immensely engaging with his charm and wit, winning over the audience before intermission. The natural warmth in his voice began to show through as the play progressed and his jovial presence made up for any technical weakness in the singing.

As the relationship between Curly and Laury manifests itself, the comedic threesome of Ado Annie (Rajni Rao), Will Parker (Keegan Cotton), and Ali Hakim (Sam Pell) are entangled in a web of conflicting romantic intentions. Sam Pell’s hilarious portrayal of the traveling “Persian” salesman, who has absolutely no intention of marring fickle Ado Annie, is one of the most memorable characters in the show, leaving the audience begging for one more “Persian goodbye.” Another character worth noting is Aunt Eller (Ali Ruth) who ran the show, literally. Ruth’s mirthful charisma and commanding presence was echoed by her striking voice as she successfully supported the action and development of the musical.

The set of the show was clever in its design that doubled as Aunt Eller’s house and Joad Fry’s barn room, defining separate settings when the swift stage crew revolved the set piece. Beautifully constructed costumes varied enough to add depth and color while still remaining cohesive, significantly contributing to the 1900s Midwest setting. Apart from having a few technical issues with the sound system during songs, the technical aspects of the production were effective.

Thomas Jefferson High School’s superb performance of Oklahoma! almost makes you want to rent your very own surrey with the fringe on top.

by Cameron Schupp of Westfield High School

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