The farmers and the cowmen hit the stage one final time for the closing performance of "Oklahoma!" on Sunday April 8, giving the nearly sold-out audience lots of laughs, great acting and an overall fun time.
As audience members filed in to the packed Fisher Theatre for the matinee performance on Sunday, there was definitely an excited energy flooding the room.
Once the orchestra started to play and the lights dimmed, the audience immediately quieted down and watched in anticipation. The detailed and visually stimulating set along with the beautiful playing by the orchestra left me impressed before the show even really started, but as soon as the first number was over, I knew I was in for an amazing couple of hours.
Each character that entered had great stage presence and commanded the attention of the audience when it was their turn to do so. Not only were they all phenomenal actors, singers and dancers, but their interactions with each other and mannerisms specific to each individual character are what really made this show excellent.
Aunt Eller, played by Bridget Johnston, senior in music, conversed with all of the characters with ease and had a charm and wit that was impossible not to like. Johnston did a wonderful job at portraying the older, motherly figure in the lives of all of the younger characters in the show and got quite a few chuckles from the audience members.
Laurey and Curly, played by Morgan Darrow and Michael Madison, both seniors in music, both had great voices and a natural chemistry. Though those who have seen the show know that Laurey and Curly end up together, it was fun to see them figure it out for themselves on stage. All of their solos were strong and their portrayal of their characters was spot on.
Jud Fry, played by Nolan Brown, senior in music, did an amazing job and actually managed to scare me a little bit. His creepy portrayal of the misunderstood character paired with his impressive singing and dancing skills kept everyone on the edge of their seats wondering what he would do or say next.
Ado Annie and Will Parker, played by Angelica Elkema and Lincoln Klopfenstein, senior and sophomore in music respectively, were probably my favorite part of the whole show. Both of their characters were absolutely hilarious and got tons of laughs out of the audience, and watching their relationship unfold throughout the show was both funny and heart-warming.
I was interested to see how Ado Annie would be portrayed since one of the goals of the show was to change the perception of the character from ditzy, to a smart and empowered woman who enjoys flirting.
As someone who is familiar with "Oklahoma!" and the original portrayal of Ado Annie, I thought that Elkema’s version was very well done. She seamlessly incorporated an attitude of a modern woman into this classic character, and did so without taking away from the original intent and still giving the audience the goofiness of Ado’s personality that many enjoyed.
Though the main characters did do an amazing job, the show would not have been nearly as successful without the incredible ensemble and featured ensemble characters. Each and every member of the ensemble was fully invested in the performance, and their small comments or ‘hoots and hollers’ are what really made this show come alive.
They managed to create an actual living thing instead of just a bunch of actors singing and dancing on stage, and there were many times were different ensemble members caught my eye by playing out their own personal story, which I appreciated. All of their singing and dancing was executed well, and I loved watching the big dance numbers.
Overall, "Oklahoma!" was a wonderful production. The characters, songs and dances held my attention from start to finish and left me wanting to see more. It lived up to and surpassed all expectations that I had for an Iowa State production, and I cannot wait to attend whatever musical they put on in the coming years.