Gallery/Ipswich: Rootin’ tootin’ fun as Appeal Theatre Group stage Oklahoma at New Wolsey
- Credit: Archant
Appeal Theatre Group’s motto has always been “all in a good cause”, raising thousands for charities in the area. Forty years on, it’s continuing its work by staging Oklahoma.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration, it’s set outside the town of Claremore in 1906 and is the story of Cowboy Curly and his romance with Laurey Williams set against the background of the tussle between ranchers and farmers competing for the land of the Oklahoma prairies.
Oklahoma was the first musical to have its songs and story written at the same time, making them and the ballet integral to the plot and advancement of the story - a new concept in 1943.
Appeal started in 1974 with a full-scale production of Sandy Wilson’s 1920s musical The Boyfriend at the Old Ipswich Theatre, now The Old Rep. It was a huge success and members continued to present a musical at the theatre at the end of the repertory season for the next six years.
When the Ipswich Theatre closed in 1980, the company was invited to continue their annual shows at the newly-built Wolsey Theatre. The rest, as they say, is history. Appeal’s main aim of the group was to use profits to fund local charities. This year’s show is in aid of FIND and Suffolk Family Carers.
Full of songs like Surrey with a Fringe on Top and I Cain’t Say No, it’s directed by Jo Whelton who’s been involved in theatre for 35 years.Musical direction comes from her dad John Whelton, a founder member of the company who has directed 12 productions and musically directed 26 while appearing in only one as the Band Leader in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Rounding out the production team is semi-regular choregrapher Suzie Lowe.
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Oklahoma runs from June 18-21 at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre.