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Herndon High School Oklahoma!

By • Dec 7th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

Have you ever heard of a Persian Goodbye? How about an Oklahoma Hello? This weekend, Herndon High School transported the audience to the 20th century western frontier in a rousing rendition of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Oklahoma!

The first collaboration of the duo that would become known merely as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma! premiered in 1943 to immediate acclaim. Its success, as the first production to integrate theatre, song, and dance, changed the face of musical theatre forever. Set in the Oklahoma Territory at the dawn of the 20th century, Oklahoma! is primarily a love story, featuring a touching romance between Curly McLain (Trevor Morgan) and Laurey Williams (Evi Dobbs) as well as a more comedic love triangle between a romantic cowboy, an uncommitted peddler, and the indecisive woman who just “Cain’t Say No.”

As Curly, Morgan dominated the stage from the opening notes of “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'” to its closing reprise. His solid portrayal created a believable character and effective foil to many of the show’s more exaggerated personalities. His powerful vocals were matched perfectly by Dobbs’ soprano, especially in the touching ballad, “People Will Say We’re in Love.” Dobbs’ Laurey was sassy but revealed a more sensitive side as the show evolved.

Ashleigh Markin and Joey Truncale stole the show as the fickle Ado Annie and her increasing impatient fiancé, Will Parker. Truncale was exuberant, invigorating the show with songs like his opening number, “Kansas City.” Although both Markin and Truncale gave excellent individual performances, they were never stronger than when they were together. Their hilarious rendition of “All Er Nuthin'” provided the show with one of its most amusing and memorable moments.

Although actors like Morgan and Truncale showcased high energy levels throughout the show, some larger musical numbers suffered from low ensemble energy. One exception was Andy Raoufi, whose portrayal of the shady peddler, Ali Hakim, charmed the audience. Throughout the show, basic choreography was well-executed by the cast as a whole; however, some featured dancers had difficulty coordinating their movements. Particularly impressive, however, was Kirsten Lloyd (Dream Laurey)’s performance during the show’s famous “Dream Ballet.”

The orchestra tackled a challenging score with finesse, rarely overpowering the actors. Microphone malfunctions sometimes made it difficult to hear the performers and some sound cues were overly loud. Simple but effective sets (Megan Warren, Colvin Rayburn, Hope Ruffner, Logan Peter) framed a brightly lit cyclorama, filled with all the colors of the Oklahoma sky. Bright, period-appropriate costumes brought additional legitimacy to the production.

Despite occasional technical difficulties, Herndon High School’s cast and crew delivered a remarkable performance — a standing ovation proved that even the audience couldn’t say no.

by Elisabeth Bloxam of Westfield High School

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