As a fan of all things musical I was delighted to hear that the Trevelyan College Musical Society were going to be performing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Oklahoma! A production with so many famous and distinctive numbers must have been a daunting prospect for a cast that consisted of several actors in their debut Durham performances, but under the direction of Nicola Orrell they made a decent crack at this iconic show.
By keeping the set simple with a backdrop of fields, and presenting the audience with nothing more complicated than a house (complete with windows and functioning door) and the occasional bench or hay bale, TCMS made sure that all attention was directed towards the action. The simplicity of the set also made the transitions between scenes sharp and allowed for the stage crew to come across as incredibly efficient and professional.
The principal cast members were particularly noteworthy. Hal Lockwood’s Jud was perhaps a tad too aggressive, but for a debut Durham performance it was incredibly strong. Sorrell Brown’s Aunt Eller was also a solidly realized and performed character. Ella Weston had one of the highlight voices of the evening – her singing was simply gorgeous and her portrayal did the character Laurey real justice. The standout performance of the night, however, had to be that of Asher Glinsman. His acting was superb and he maintained his accent incredibly well, even whilst he sang – you would never have picked him out as a first time Durham performer. He and Weston made a very convincing pair, and their portrayal of the relationship between their characters possessed that quintessential cuteness that is so crucial to the success of the show.
The dancing, on the whole, could have been sleeker and needed a considerably longer rehearsal period. The party scene in the second act was nonetheless a marvel, and clear effort had been put into the production of the scene. Hannah Fisher and Helen Bench’s choreography was spot on during the scene and some of the dancers’ acrobatics were particularly impressive. The chorus, as a whole, could also have been stronger, with some of the solos slightly off. But, with it being the first night, nerves and a discernable lack of confidence on the chorus’ part were totally understandable. The music was great but, regrettably, its volume, coupled with the unfortunate cutting in and out of several of the microphones, meant that the singing was often drowned out and unclear.
I feel the need to mention that I was sat on the second row and had a clear view of the entire stage, which was particularly well-it. Audience members who sat further back in the un-tiered rows would be justified in complaining about not being able to see everything. While the sound and dancing definitely needed some polishing, TCMS’ Oklahoma! had a strong cast, with the leads doing a stellar job on all of their numbers. If you happen to be the kind of person that likes Oklahoma!, then this is by all respects a show worth watching,. The numbers were jolly, and so the show was fun.