The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Oklahoma!
Organization William Jessup Creative Arts Department
Date(s) of show April 15-24, 2016
Reviewer Sallee Kallenbach
Review Yee-haw and yippie ki-yay! This Oklahoma! was phenomenal. From the friendly parking lot attendants to the ushers showing me to my specially reserved seat to the brilliant direction of this musical, I witnessed nothing but professionalism and ingenuity. The moment Curly, played by Andy Geffken, began belting “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'” in his honey-dripping tenor voice, I was easily saddled and ready for the ride. I even brushed off the prerecorded music as an irrelevant factor. Aunt Eller (Kristin Tillotson) punctuated everyone else’s lines with splendid deadpan punchlines. Laurey (Kayla Krogh) displayed radiantly defiant independence as she countered and courted Curly, singing “Many a New Day” and other memorable songs. Playing the disturbingly dark and burly Jud Fry was Andy McCollum, who possessed a deeply heartrending baritone voice and demeanor as he sang the gut-wrenching “Lonely Room.” Then along came Will Parker, charmingly played by high school senior Nick Soldevila-Hancock. I was absolutely floored as he and his posse of extraordinary dancing cowboys performed a positively rip-roaring rendition of “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City.” Not only could these male actors sing and dance, but they also could perform fancy rope tricks while singing and dancing! Ado Annie, played by Kelly Ann Dunn, was impish and comedic as she vivaciously defied the rules of how a woman was supposed to behave, bursting into “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No.” Andres Garcia’s peddler Ali Hakim had hilarious comedic timing as he wheeled and dealed his way across the stage with an occasional zinger. Andrew Carnes, played by Roy Tee-Davis, was the perfect shotgun wedding cowboy father for Ado Anne’s wayward ways. Payton Gobeille developed the most impeccably irritating laugh for her Gertie Cummings character.

In the Dream Ballet I found an unearthly joy to behold with an ensemble of ballet and can-can dancers and a male dancer (Derek Martin, also the choreographer) who cleverly substituted for Curly. When the cast arrived at the Skidmore’s box social for the lively “The Farmer and the Cowman,” I thought for sure the square dancers and stunt fighters would fly off the stage. Every little timed beat in this play was taken advantage of and choreographed, including having the ensemble bounce or sweep to the beat instead of just standing there while someone else sang a solo. The entire cast of principals and townspeople danced, sang and delivered dialogue together in such perfect sync and harmony that I began to think in no way was this an amateur college production. Even the stage crew had the precision and speed of a well-oiled machine.

A quick pace was the method used by intuitive director Jennifer Martin, leaving nary a dull or empty moment in the play, which certainly made it a whirlwind of delight. I was also pleased to discover that all the “hells,” “damns” and sexy movement were kept in the show, leaving out none of the racier language or subject matter from the original script. The scenery not only had a charming Western theme, it also displayed eye-catching little touches such as an old windmill and a backwards-facing raised fencepost sign saying “Skidmore Ranch.” Costumes and makeup were simple and classic. Properties were both unique and authentic, from lanterns, ropes, saddles and pie trays right down to the “Little Wonder” and Ali Hakim’s barrel-chested elixir cabinet.

I saw no slackers in this production. The entire cast, crew, directors and house staff were on board as they worked together like a team of professionals. Did I just see a Broadway show?

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