Over the weekend I finally got the chance to go see Oklahoma at the Cumberland County Playhouse. I had been putting it off because I’d planned to take my younger sister, but it never seemed to come about. Since the show closes on September 2nd, I thought I probably needed to go ahead and see it. Oklahoma is typical Cumberland County Playhouse. It’s wholesome, classic, and well done. Its Rodgers and Hammerstein for crying out loud. That being said, I loved this show. As much as I love a more modern show, there’s just something about a classic musical. And one that’s well done is that much better.
Originally, this show had cast Nathaniel Hackmann and Nicole Bégué Hackmann as Curly and Laurey, but they have both left the show and have been replaced by Daniel Black and Lindy Pendzick. I can’t compare them, because I didn’t see Nathaniel and Nicole, but I loved the chemistry between Lindy and Daniel. Lindy played the perfect not-so-girly, slightly stubborn young lady. Daniel was fantastic as a persistent cowboy who knows what (or better yet, who) he wants and won’t give up on it.
Carol Irving as Aunt Eller, was wonderful. Her friendly persona just fit as the lovable aunt that everyone loves. Playhouse funny man, Jason Ross was a no brainer for the roll of traveling peddler Ali Hakim. Oklahoma isn’t really a comedy, though there are plenty of funny moments in the show. But Jason’s Ali Hakim counted for the majority of my fits of laughter throughout the play.
Ado Annie is a character that has always cracked me up. As girl who just “cain’t say no,” Leila Nelson makes the character lovable and hilarious all in the same breath. She spends the whole show trying to decide between Ali Hakim and slightly gullible local, Will Parker, played by Greg Pendzick. These three make for some of the best comedy in the entire show.
Oklahoma has one of my favorite love songs in a musical ever. “People Will Think We’re In Love,” sung by Laurey and Curly, nearly had me in tears. I don’t know what it is about that song, but seeing Lindy and Daniel sing that song was one of the most beautiful moments of the show. After all, Laurey spends a majority of the show trying to fight her attraction for childhood friend Curly, while he chases her relentlessly. This song is the prefect representation of their relationship.
Aunt Eller and Laurey’s farm hand, Jud Fry, was played by Britt Hancock. I’ll admit to having seen Britt in several other productions at Cumberland County Playhouse. Even in his most serious roles, I’ve never seen him play “the bad guy.” I’m used to seeing him in more lighthearted roles. And I’m used to seeing a smile on his face. When Jud Fry walked on stage for the first time, I barely recognized Britt Hancock. And the character was so deliciously dark and dangerous that I was a little freaked out. Even from many rows back in the audience. In fact, I was actually glad to see him smile, for real, at the curtain call. In my opinion, he was the standout of the entire show.
As always, the ensemble cast was wonderful. Familiar faces abound, and it was wonderful to see a young ensemble member from my hometown (who is a classmate of my younger sister). I love that the Cumberland County Playhouse gives a chance for young people to act with such amazing professionals onstage.
This show only runs until September 2nd, but I highly advise that you try to catch it while you still can. It’s a great family show and a wonderful chance for you to enjoy a true classic musical. You can purchase tickets by going HERE.