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US love story spreads joy

PUBLISHED: 10:19 26 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:10 03 March 2010

Oklahoma!

Appeal Theatre Group at the New Wolsey Theatre

Until Saturday



You cannot doubt the ambition of the Appeal Group. The only amateur group to use the Wolsey, they are worthy recipients of the honour and demonstrate why in this fine production of Rogers and Hammerstein's classic musical.

Oklahoma!

Appeal Theatre Group at the New Wolsey Theatre

Until Saturday

You cannot doubt the ambition of the Appeal Group. The only amateur

company to use the Wolsey, they are worthy of the honour, as

they demonstrate in this fine

production of Rogers and Hammerstein's classic musical.

In his centenary year, I'm sure Rogers, born in 1902 – roughly the time in which the American frontier love story is set – would look

benevolently on how his music still spreads infectious joy. And the Appeal group has certainly caught it!

The first thing that hits you is the studied attention to detail. The set is marvellous and the opening bars of Oh, What a Beautiful Morning emerge like the sun through a real haze of dry ice.

The tricky Oklahoman accent is "preddy" well licked, the dancing executed with thought and spirit – with some great playing by the small but perfectly-formed orchestra. And these turn-of-the-century Okies are well turned out in eye-catching costumes.

With strong voices and presence to match, Will Dykes and Mandy Moles were excellent in the lead romantic roles. Catherine Steel as Ado-Annie and Ryan Fenton's Will Parker were entertaining as the secondary lovers.

With force, Robin Warne sounded the plot's one sour note in the form of Jud, while Maureen Whelton, as Aunt Eller, shone with optimism of the archetypal frontierswoman.

Oh, what a wonderful show!

JFA

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