What do you get when you have a talented cast of actors, musicians, and production staff coupled with brilliant leadership by the teachers at North Kingstown High School? A fabulous performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Students, proud parents, North Kingstown businesses, and musical theater fans were treated to quite an entertaining evening. With over 50 performers, a live orchestra, dance moves, lines, sheet music to follow, even the casual observer walked away thinking “Wow, they put a lot of work into this musical to make this happen.”
Before going to the show at the North Kingstown High School, I read up a little bit on the play itself. It has been gracing the stages of theaters, high schools, and community centers since the 1940s. Famous actors such as Hugh Jackman, Alfred Molina, Patty Duke, even Florence Henderson have all played parts in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. As the lights began to dim, a familiar face, music mentor to many here in North Kingstown, Michael Iadevaia stepped to the conductor’s position to lead the orchestra. The opening music was crisp and lively and the mood was set for the circa early 1900’s themed musical.
Oklahoma! takes place in the early 1900’s in cowboy country of the Oklahoma territory. The theme of the musical centers around finding your true love and letting nothing get in your way of winning her heart and hand in marriage. The stage was decorated with a makeshift farmhouse, rocking chair, and front porch to help set the mood of the era. The costumes were all period based -cowboy hats, traditional farmhand outfits with holsters and boots. The women dressed very traditional and conservative, what you would expect from the clothing of that era. One by one the audience was greeted by singing, dancing, and story telling of these talented actors.
Oklahoma! included both solo and ensemble singing performances. The solo performances were just so incredible to watch and listen to. The talent was just oozing out of every note the actors sung. And the ensemble performances were very well choreographed, with sometimes 25 or more performers on stage at once singing, dancing, interweaving through each other. All flawlessly done and very entertaining to watch. In the program provided, you can read up some of the bios of the actors involved in this musical. A truly exceptional group of performers.
According to the program, there is one more performance, today Sunday March 5th. If you have yet to see this musical, I highly recommend it. If you are an alumni of North Kingstown High School, as I am, you will walk away with a huge sense of pride in your school. Yes, we cheer for the football team on Thanksgiving and the basketball team during tournament time. And like those sports that require weeks and months of preparation for games and tournaments, the same can be said for the performers, teachers, volunteers, and production staff of the musical Oklahoma! The end result of all that hard work is a brilliant performance, one which would make Rodgers & Hammerstein very proud of.