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Review: ‘Oklahoma!’ at Prince William Little Theatre

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Feel jaunty and energized after Prince William Little Theatre’s production of Oklahoma!. Enter into a land of wide open prairie fields, great company and even greater gossip. This cheery town blooms as bright as sunflowers in summer.

The cast of Oklahoma!. Photo courtesy of Prince William Little Theatre.

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 cast’s energy and moxie brought the audience back to a time of manifest destiny and unbridled hope. Immersed in the production, the whole cast shined bright as triple threats excelling in singing, dancing, and acting.

Curly (Aaron Verchot-Ware) a brassy and bold cattle rancher with eyes for the ladies has his eye set on one particular farm girl. Verchot-Ware’s 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 Verchot-Ware’s connection with Laurey (Abbie Desrosiers.) The couple’s playful banter soon transformed into true confessions of love. Desrosiers 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 (Nick MacFarlane), a feisty and free wheeling cattle ranger. MacFarlane was a charming and fresh faced actor who enamored the audience every time he came on stage. Likewise was Ado Annie (Ariel Friendly) who left us knowing that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Friendly, truly a star in the making, had the audience in stitches with her hit number, “I Cain’t Say No.”

Adding a layer of depth and danger to the plot was non other than ol’ Jud Fry (Jay Tilley), the town’s creep and hermit. Tilley brought the forceful and brute presence needed for the role. Overall, his commitment to character kept the audience on the edge of their seats.

I would be remiss not to mention Aunt Eller (Ellen Woodstock), who acted as the moral and emotional guide for not only her niece Laurey, but the whole town. Woodstock was honest, clear and, commanding throughout the production. She was an anchor for the cast and production as a whole.

Supporting the story was a vivacious, energetic, and talented group of town folk. The small 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 Dan Bellotte, 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 was costumes designed by Susy Moorstein, 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. Prince William Little Theatre’s 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 15-minute intermission.

Oklahoma! plays through July 30, 2017 at Prince William Little Theatre performing at the Gregory Family Theater at Hylton Performing Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, call (888) 945-2468, purchase them at the door, or purchase them online.

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